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Tis the season for over-eating, shopping til you drop, family gatherings, long conversations around the family table, deeply rooted traditions, old stories, and new memories…and for being grateful for all of it.

We know that it’s pretty cliché, but there is something to be said about gratefulness.

Actually, there’s a lot to be said about it.

Study after study has shown that gratefulness leads to a happier life. It improves quality of life.

Gratitude has been shown not only to light up the faces of those around you, but it lights up your brain as well. It’s not just a psychological thing either. Although psychologically speaking, gratefulness gives us higher levels of positive emotions, more joy, pleasure, optimism, and happiness. It has physical implications as well, such as a stronger immune system, lower blood pressure, fewer body aches and pains, and better, longer, more restful sleep.

But wait! There’s more!

Gratitude is a personal choice that informs social emotion. When we decide to be grateful, even for the little things, we become more helpful, generous, forgiving, and compassionate. People become more outgoing and feel less lonely and isolated because they are interacting and connecting with others from a deep place of appreciation and empathy.

With all the hurrying, travel, traffic and stress that the holidays can cause, it’s important to be intentional and take a moment to focus on something you’re grateful for. Make a habit of it. Choose to find gratitude in the little things along with the big ones.

And just because it’s almost Christmas, we thought we’d throw in another study for those of you who like to decorate well in advance. If you can’t wait until after Thanksgiving and find yourself singing Christmas songs, watching Christmas movies, and decorating the Christmas tree… Well, you may just be happier for it. Take a look here to see why decorating early brings the warm, fuzzy feelings of yesteryear. The earlier you decorate, the longer you have to enjoy the wonder and joy and nostalgia of the season.

Now, go and enjoy this holiday season. And decorate the tree!

Be grateful. Be present. Be a child again.

Be aware of moments that you can carry with you throughout your life.