The end of daylight savings time recently passed and we reset our clocks to “fall back” one hour.  It took a few days to adjust to the early evening darkness, but the brighter mornings are certainly appreciated by early risers everywhere.  The end of daylight savings time is also a reminder that the holidays are just around the corner.

In a few short weeks, we will be gathering around the Thanksgiving table with family and friends to kick off the holiday season.  It’s the beginning of a busy and festive time of year, and also the perfect time to take a moment and appreciate what we have. The perfect time to reflect and give thanks for the opportunities we have been given, and the people who love and support us all year long.  Being grateful brings a greater happiness to the holiday season. Things don’t have to be perfect (nothing ever is) to express gratitude, it’s a mindset that allows us to see the good in our lives. Gratitude helps us put our situations into perspective and open up our thinking to new solutions.

Research shows that gratitude has tremendous benefits on our quality of life.  Being thankful improves physical and emotional health, increases self-esteem, and enhances empathy. It lowers blood pressure, reduces stress and anxiety, and helps us sleep better.   Being thankful also brings us closer to people and makes us more optimistic. Overall, being grateful just makes us feel good.

One of the best ways to express gratitude is to give back to others.  Giving back can be a simple thank you to someone who has inspired you, motivated you, and made a difference in your life.  It can be a written thank-you note expressing your appreciation for their impact on your life.  Giving back can be offering your time and assistance to someone in need, volunteering to a community in crisis, or contributing to a charity close to your heart.

Practicing gratitude can also be done by taking the time to notice and reflect on the things we are thankful for.  The entire Iroquois Springs community is so fortunate to have an endless number of things and moments to be grateful for.  At IS we are thankful for camp fires, true friends, and the opportunity to develop independence and confidence during our summers at camp.  We are thankful for counselors who provide ongoing support and encouragement, for acts of kindness and friendship that are being practiced every day, and for the spirit and love everyone has for their summer home.  We are thankful for those who step outside of their comfort zone and teach us all about courage. We are thankful for being unplugged and interacting face to face.  We are thankful for singing camp songs that unite us, and the forever memories we have of summers at Iroquois Springs.

This holiday season, take a few moments to focus on all that you have, and enjoy the happiness that gratitude brings. Everyone can benefit from making an effort to practice gratitude this holiday season and every day.  Happy Thanksgiving!