Gratitude and joy are the themes for November as we take time this month to be mindfully grateful for the many blessings in our lives. Ancient agricultural societies marked this month by giving thanks for the bounties of the earth. For these communities this was the time when the last stores for the winter months were gathered before the cold and the time of hunger set in. Harvest festivals marked the month as the fruits of the field were gathered and all were thankful for the abundance.

Today our lives overfill with plenty yet many of us refuse to see it. I know in this year of a slipping economy many of us don’t have the spending money we once did and sometimes it is difficult to stick to our new budgets but our lives are still rich. We have food to eat. We live in a country where clean water, electricity and a comfortable bed are the norm. Our lives are filled with rich relationships and people that we love.

When you notice yourself grumbling about, take a moment to open your eyes to the blessings around you and realize how rich you really are. Cultivating a spirit of gratitude is one way to fill up your inner well of peace. Having a spirit of gratitude is good for your soul. The simple act of being grateful will make you a happier person, and it will make others happy to be around you.

Here are a few ways to open your heart to gratitude:

Count your blessings instead of wishing for more and moping about what you don't have. Your glass isn’t half empty, it’s half full. Don’t be discouraged by the things you have lost. Be happy and appreciate all that remains in your life.

Be thankful for your job. Yes I know, sometimes we all hate our job but look at the positive benefits you reap from it. Give thanks for your abilities and your chance to improve upon them. Face challenges with a positive attitude and see how much quicker you conquer new projects. Marvel at how wonderful you feel in your accomplishments.

This month give thanks for all of your positive relationships. Be thankful for the people that love you and all those you love in return. Be thankful for your friends. Good company makes your life rich.

We are a social bunch and live in community. Recognize the random acts of kindness others show you and reciprocate the favor. Make a point of showing kindness to your neighbors and those you come in contact with and say Thank you.

Your physical body is a miracle. Be thankful for it and all the things it can do. Be thankful for your health. An easy way to give back to your community is to donate your services to a neighbor who can no longer do the things you can.

Take time to meditate. Our bodies are so much more than meets the eye. Of course we are flesh, blood and bone but we are also Spirit and within our body lies and an amazing network of energy centers or chakras. This energy system ensures that our organs, cells, and tissues stay strong and healthy. When there is a block in an energy pathway, the organ system that the pathway corresponds with will also become blocked. Through meditation we can move energy through the body and heal it. Not only can we eliminate stress but we can heal and balance our own bodies by drawing energy to the energy center or chakra point that is not functioning to its fullest potential. Through Meditation Practices one can improve mental functioning, achieve greater intuition as well as greater access to unconscious resources and abilities.

Get out and exercise. Go for a walk and give thanks for the beauty you encounter. The natural world is an amazing place. Seasonal awareness, awareness of the solstices and equinoxes and reflecting seasonal changes in your person practices, allows you to attune your personal energy to the energy of the natural world. Celebrating these ancient rituals is a way of attuning with the magical tides, to recognize the rhythms of life, death and rebirth and to harmonize with the world and to recognize that we are a part of it.

Be kind to the animals that share your world. Interacting with animals enriches everyone’s lives. Most of us have pets but have you ever noticed that small actions like keeping a bird feeder, or feeding a stray cat opens you to the joys of the natural world. I’ve spent many peaceful moments watching the hummingbirds dip and buzz around their feeder. Every winter I make a point to help the wild animals in my neighborhood have an easier life.

Smile! Don’t let stress get you down. It’s a fact that cultivating gratitude is a simple way to a greater sense of emotional well-being. The simple act of smiling is proven to lower your stress level and a smile makes you more attractive. So smile.

It's easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life and let days, weeks and even months slip by. As John Lennon said, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”. Start doing the things you want to do. Make time for simple pleasures. Make a cup of tea or take a bubble bath. Set aside a morning to try out that new recipe you found. Fall back on the seasonal observance and bake a cake or a loaf of bread and give thanks for the simple fact that today you are alive.

The benefits of letting your heart swell with gratitude are many. When you are thankful your troubles fade and your blessings will seem to multiply. Your positive attitude will draw additional positive things into your life. You will succeed and accomplish more of the tasks you take on. The people you encounter will be drawn to you and will respond to you with positive reactions. Your relationships will be strengthened all because you have decided to adopted an attitude of gratitude.

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