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Developing the habit of gratitude


As we make our way through the holiday season, there are so many little emotional triggers—for better or for worse—that surround us. The smells…the colors…the change of weather…the music…these are all constant reminders that evoke different feelings, depending on what this season has been like for you in the past. Maybe your family has always been close and this is a sacred time to reunite and celebrate. Or perhaps this season is a prompt for pain and loss—a throbbing reminder of what’s missing.

Regardless of where you’re coming from, we can use these little seasonal sensory triggers to move us toward a healthier way of being. What if you make this season a time to practice the habit of gratitude? You don’t have to wait for gratitude to sneak up on you in those seemingly increasingly rare moments. Instead, you can let the changing leaves, or the smell of a pumpkin spice latte, or the ring of some silver bells remind you to practice gratitude.

            Scientifically speaking, gratitude can:

  • Improve your mood
  • Make you more optimistic
  • Improve the social connections
  • Improve physical health 

How do you practice gratitude, and not just wait on it for when it decides to show up? You can habit stack it. This means you pick a part of your day and intentionally stack a moment of gratitude next to it. For instance:

  • Morning coffee PLUS write down one thing you’re grateful for
  • Start your car PLUS speak or pray one thing your grateful for
  • Brush your teeth PLUS text a friend a note of gratitude

No matter where you are coming from this season, you have a chance to choose gratitude and practice it. Take advantage of those little holiday triggers and turn them into thankfulness, even if for the sake of your own health.

Still, when it comes to holiday heft from past pain and trauma, you may need some deeper work.  Know that The Refuge Center is here to support you, so do not hesitate to reach out for an appointment with us at 615-591-5262 as you practice gratitude this holiday season.


The mental health benefits of gratitude. Nationwide Children’s Hospital. (n.d.). Retrieved November 3, 2021, from 

Blog written by Master’s Level Intern, Cory Bishop

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The Refuge Center for Counseling is a 501c3 nonprofit organization (20-3831943). We are also a United Way of Williamson County Partner Organization.