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        Happy Thanksgiving! My favorite part of the holiday is taking the time to be grateful – giving thanks for all that we have. I’m so grateful for my loving family, friends, our health, and for all of you who take the time to read my blog! Thank you! Having an “attitude of gratitude” has been shown to improve overall health, happiness, and well being. Let’s all take some time today to reflect on all the gifts we have in life, and keep those less fortunate in our hearts and minds.

         

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        Attitude of Gratitude

        A study performed at UC Davis in California looked at the effects of gratitude. Dr. Emmons and his team found that taking the time to reflect on the good things in life improved emotional and physical health and well being. They studied a group who kept a journal of the things they were grateful for vs. those who didn’t. They found that “those who kept gratitude journals on a weekly basis exercised more regularly, reported fewer physical symptoms, felt better about their lives as a whole, and were more optimistic about the upcoming week compared to those who recorded hassles or neutral life events (Emmons & McCullough, 2003)”. Sounds like a pretty easy thing to do, no?

        Curious about the other health benefits of gratitude? You can find some great reads here, here and here.

         

        Giving Thanks

        During this holiday season, let’s keep those who may be struggling in our hearts and minds. There are so many children, adults, and animals – who may not have access to clean water, a filling meal, or a warm place to lay their heads to sleep. The child whose parents couldn’t afford food today. The woman seeking refuge in a shelter. The man who just needs a safe, warm place to rest his head. The elderly couple stuck in a senior home with no visitors. The sad dog at the local shelter who just needs a little love. You can make a difference in your community this season by giving back and helping those around us.

         

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        Giving back doesn’t always have to mean “money”. Giving back can come in many forms, from volunteering your times, skills or energy to volunteer at the local shelter, food bank, or hospital to buying food and gifts for organizations who can provide these services. Don’t feel like you have to take this on all by yourself. Most companies participate in some sort of giving campaign and most will give you time off work to go volunteer or will match and monetary donation you make up to a certain point!

        Unfortunately, with generosity can come those who will abuse it. Please do your due diligence on any company or organization to which you donate time or money.

        Need some inspiration to give back? I’ve compiled a small list below. Let’s get started and make the world we live in a better place!

         

        Volunteer your time, skills, or energy:

        • Help stock food at your local food bank or pantry.
        • Volunteer to read to kids at your local children’s hospital.
        • Play with the dogs and cats at the local animal shelter.
        • Spend time with seniors at a nursing home.
        • Workshop resumes and interview skills at a homeless shelter.
        • Serve food at a soup kitchen or shelter.
        • Build a sustainably priced home by volunteering for Habitat for Humanity.
        • Become a mentor.
        • Prepare “care kits” for the homeless.
        • Use services like volunteermatch.org to find volunteer opportunities in an area for which you are passionate.
        • Get active! Read up on solutions for hunger and homelessness – there are many organizations fighting these situations! Get involved by volunteering your time or supporting their cause.

         

        Donate items or funds:

        • Clean out your closet and donate items in good condition to Goodwill or a shelter.
        • Donate money to your local food bank or pantry for them to buy fresh food. (Why shouldn’t you donate cans of food? Watch this video!)
        • Partner with your company to donate money to a shelter / food bank/ cause.
        • Buy toys or food for the local animal shelter or donate money.
        • Buy toys for children in shelters (make sure you check with the shelters to see what they could use first!).
        • Purchase blankets and toiletries for homeless shelters.
        • Donate money to a cause you’re passionate about. Is it saving the whales? Clean water for children in 3rd world countries? You can make a difference!
        • Support companies who do good. My friend Z’s company, Serenity Forge, is donating the proceeds from the sales of their video games to ACLU Nationwide and Planned Parenthood!
        • Spread the awareness – help your local domestic violence awareness program and shelters by donating food, clothes, and time.
        • Purchase clothes, sporting equipment, or school supplies for charities such as A Precious Child (make sure you call and ask what they are accepting first!).
        • Donate funds to children’s hospitals like St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.

         

        Have more ideas on how to give back? Let me know in the comments below!

        A huge thank you to everyone reading my blog!! Have a safe and happy thanksgiving everyone!!!

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