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A guide to being grateful through the holiday season

Dr. Matt Woolley and Casey Scott talk about what it means to be grateful and give out tips on how to be grateful throughout the holidays.

Being grateful during the holidays may seem like an easy notion to participate in but for many, this time of the year brings additional stress. Whether it’s financial stress, fatigue, or just general depression, the holidays can bring have the opposite effect of what they should. Especially if you aren’t able to sit down and think about what you’re grateful for.

That’s the theme from the latest episode of the ‘Project Recovery’ podcast featuring Casey Scott and Dr. Matt Woolley, a clinical psychologist for the University of Utah. As the holidays approach, the two sat down and decided it was time to remind everyone why and how to be grateful.

Thankful or Grateful?

Are we thankful or are we grateful? What’s the difference? Can’t I be both? Yes, yes, and yes!

According to Dr. Matt, the two are interchangeable and should continuously be at the forefront of your thinking when the holidays approach. “Gratitude, thankfulness, those things can exist on a continuum from more typical everyday sorts of things, like the traffic, to really big, big things in your life,” he said.

So, what exactly is the difference between being thankful and being grateful? The literal definition of grateful is: feeling or showing an appreciation of kindness; whereas thankful is defined as being pleased and relieved. But to Casey Scott, the two are much easier defined by using a real-world example. “I’m thankful that I hit green lights on the way here but I’m grateful that I have a car.”

Teaching people gratitude

Now that we understand the correlation between being thankful and being grateful, how do we become more grateful?

Dr. Matt believes meditation may be the first step into understanding what you’re truly grateful for.

“Gratitude is when you acknowledge something positive in your life and you sit with that for a minute. You experience the positive emotions that come with it. You are thankful, grateful, showing appreciation for something that has come into your life and benefited you in some way,” Dr. Matt Woolley said. “The second part is expressing it.”

Tips for being grateful

There are a lot of different exercises you can practice that will hone in your gratitude skills including:

  • Meditating: As Dr. Matt mentioned above, meditating is the first step to consider what and who you’re grateful for in life. Taking a little bit of time out of your day to think about those who mean the most to you could not only cause you to relax and clear your mind but it could also help you understand what you can be grateful for in your life.
  • Writing a gratitude letter: Dr. Matt recommends to pick someone around you who has made a huge difference in your life. Then, think about what they’ve done for you and write them a letter. This method allows you to personally hand your letter to that special person to discuss how much they truly mean to you.
  • Verbally saying “thank you”: It may seem like a small act of kindness but when you take time out of your day to sit someone down to just tell them “thank you”, it could completely change someone’s day for the better.
  • Volunteer your time and efforts: If you’re are incredibly blessed and lucky enough to be surrounded by family and friends during the holidays, you may find yourself opting-in to help those less fortunate. There are plenty of options in the general Salt Lake City area that would love the help such as the Road Home shelter, the Utah Food Bank, and the Utah Salt Lake City Mission.
  • Use social media to spread positivity: Let’s face it, social media is simply a click away. We’re on it more than ever as a society and it’s time we take control of what we see and what we post. Studies have shown that positive news travels much quicker than negative news. So, posting about something you’re grateful for is just another way to reduce the negative things being shown on social platforms. It will almost promote gratitude and positivity for everyone else!

Conclusion: Spread love and gratitude

It’s not hard to be grateful and to show those around them how much they mean to us. Sometimes we just need to remind ourselves every once in a while. What are some of your favorite tips on being grateful?

You can find the podcast on Facebook and on KSL TV. To hear more from Casey Scott and Dr. Matt Woolley, you can listen below or subscribe to the ‘Project Recovery’ podcast on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get major podcasts.

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