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    I know, I know - thanksgiving was last week, so why am I talking about gratitude now? truth be told, this post was originally scheduled for last week, but as I started working on it, I got to thinking about the way that many of us (myself included) race through each day without ever stopping to look around and appreciate everyone and everything good in our lives. until thanksgiving, that is. and then, for a few days, we pause just long enough to give thanks before returning to our regular routines.
    but, shouldn't we make an effort to experience and express gratitude year-round? I say yes, and I'm looking forward to filling my own life with more - and more regular - moments of thanks in the coming days, weeks, months, and years.
    with this in mind, I decided to hold this post until after the thanksgiving holiday was behind us. I've pulled together a short list of tips for year-round gratitude, all of which I plan to incorporate into my everyday life and which, hopefully, will be helpful to you! as always, if you have anything to add to the list, leave a comment at the end of the post, below.
    1. pause and recognize your blessings. for many of us, life is so busy all the time that it's easy to keep moving through it without every stopping to recognize everyone and everything that we have. doing so, however, can be a wonderful practice that really helps you to feel connected to - and appreciative of - the blessings in your life. I recently learned about something called the five-minute journal, which aims to help people do just what I'm suggesting: pause for long enough (in this case, five minutes) to assess your life and experience feelings of gratitude. if you haven't heard of the journal yet, definitely check it out - it looks pretty awesome; I'm hoping to pick one up to start in the new year.
    2. give back regularly. when your life has been blessed - in any way - it feels really good to help someone else who hasn't received the same blessing(s) as you have. we all think about giving back during the holiday season - but the broad concept of 'giving' seems to slip from the forefront to the back of my mind come january. make a goal to give back - in big or little ways - continuously throughout the year, and not only will you help to improve someone else's life, but you'll be reminded of (and subsequently, feel thankful for) everything that you have in your own.
    3. counteract complaints with thanksgiving. I recently saw a post on facebook about a mother who made a list of her standard complaints - things like "I hate doing laundry," "the children are messy," "I'm tired and don't want to cook dinner." things that any of us - parents or not - probably grumble about at least once a week. next to each of these complaints, however, the woman wrote a related expression of gratitude: "I'm thankful to have clothes to wash and clean water in which to wash them," "I'm thankful to have children to love," "I'm thankful to have food with which to feed my family." these aren't her exact words (I'm going off of memory here), but the point is the same. this woman turned each negative thought or complaint on its head by finding the good hidden within it. the post has stuck with me since I first saw it, and it's something I think about quite frequently these days. as the post demonstrates, thankfulness is an attitude, and we have the power to turn a negative attitude into one of gratitude. whenever you next complain about something, I challenge you to flip your complaint and find something within it for which you are truly, truly thankful. it'll be easier than you might expect.
    one more thing: in the spirit of pausing to give thanks, thank you to each one of you who stops by to read the blog and shop for jewelry. running my own business has been a very long-term dream of mine, and I recognize that I couldn't do it at all without each and every one of you. so, thank you. very, very much.