Posted by David Rutledge on

The Halloween decorations are packed up and put away, but let’s not be sad. Instead, let’s continue to enjoy the fall festivities as we open our hearts to November, a month famous for its golden glow of gratitude along with the joy and happiness the holiday season brings with it. Thanksgiving isn’t until the very end of the month, but that doesn’t mean we have to wait to be thankful or giving. Every day is a good day to teach our children about being kind to others and grateful for our blessings. As luck would have it, it is also National Gratitude Month. To help you get into the attitude of gratitude mindset, here are some ideas to get you started.

Journal your gratitude
It’s so easy to forget experiences that bring us joy and happiness on a daily basis. By writing these experiences in a journal at the end of your day, and then thinking upon them in the morning when you wake up, you can extend the life of each experience. A morning gratitude review can also set you up for a day filled with more joyful interactions. This practice might even help you find ways to be a blessing to others. Ask yourself what you can do to encourage gratitude in someone else. It’s a great way to get your mind out of the habit of focusing on daily challenges, plus it could be a fun activity for you and your children to do together.

Use your voice to express appreciation
We all like to feel appreciated no matter how old we are. A great way to show your appreciation for another’s actions is to simply speak up and say, “Thank you!” and flash a little smile. Those actions not only make someone else’s day, they can fill your spirit with happiness as well. Parents get better behavior from their children when they thank them for such things as helping set the dinner table or taking out the trash. The more you thank and encourage a child for their help, the more giving they can become.

Another way to use your voice is to express gratitude in the words you speak to others. Instead of telling someone they should be grateful, set the example by saying something like, “ I’m so thankful that I got to spend time with my family this weekend. We had such a great time.” The words you use to describe your life can make more of an impression than trying to tell someone how to live their life.

Treat yourself to something special
Too often, we forget about treating ourselves with gratitude. If we are always giving to others, we run the risk of becoming resentful. It is important to do something for ourselves from time to time to keep our tanks full. Give yourself permission to take time to decompress, relax, and enjoy life. Your family will be happy you did.

If you are excited about showing gratitude and want to expand it beyond your family, think about sharing the spirit with those who serve. There are people who put their lives on the line and serve others on a daily basis. First responders such as policemen and women, firefighters, EMTs (emergency medical technicians), and military members come to mind. There isn’t a special day of observance for all the people listed here; however, Veterans Day is November 11th and could be a great opportunity for us to thank everyone who is in service to others. Making plans with your family to spread joy to this community of givers is made easy with these ideas.

Thank a veteran or first responder
How many of our children are aware that there are men and women who serve and protect our country every single day? Veterans are people who are no longer actively serving in the military (Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, or Coast Guard) but are still proud to care for their country. They are citizens who usually take on jobs such as police officer, firefighter, teacher, or mail carrier. Veterans and first responders have a heart for giving back to their communities because they enjoy being part of a bigger cause. Simple ways to thank those who serve include:

Send a card
Veterans Day cards can now be found in most stores that carry greeting cards. Making homemade cards can be more meaningful and fun. Whatever you decide will brighten the day of a veteran or first responder.

Attend a Veterans Day parade
It’s easy to find a parade in your area. Just Google Veterans Day Parades 2019 and your town or city and a list will pop up. Sometimes you get lucky and get to see jets do a flyover. This is the perfect opportunity to show your gratitude. How fun would it be to create a beautiful poster to display as the floats with veterans go by?! You’ll also see fire trucks, ambulances, and police cars. It is the perfect place to say, “Thank you for your service!”

Shake a veteran’s hand and say, “Thank you for your service!”
Simply saying thank you is probably the best way to let veterans and first responders know you appreciate them. It doesn’t cost anything and the joy you spread is contagious.

To wrap up this month of gratitude, let’s put our focus on Thanksgiving. There are so many opportunities out there to brighten someone’s day during this holiday. This might be the year you decide to change or add to family traditions. Below are a few ideas to do just that.

Volunteer on Thanksgiving
Volunteering is a wonderful way to teach children how to give back and show gratitude. Great places to volunteer during the holidays are soup kitchens, local charities, and assisted living facilities, to name a few.

Donate food, clothing, and time
Food banks often run low on food during the holidays and winter months. Think about a meal you would love to have if you didn’t have any food at all. If you are financially able, donate the fixings for that meal to a family in need. You can’t go wrong! If you happen to have extra clothing, coats, shoes, and warm blankets, they would be greatly appreciated as well.

The internet is a treasure trove when it comes to finding what you want. All you have to do is type in volunteer opportunities, veterans day parades, or gratitude awareness and you’re on your way to filling your heart with joy as you make a difference in the life of another. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself wanting to show your gratitude year-round. The spirit of giving can be addictive. Happy November, and remember, we are thankful for you! For more ideas on giving visit
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