The Power of Gratitude – Setting Yourself Up to Feel Good

Nothing is more powerful than remembering all the “good things” in our life to counteract the distressing feelings that seek to creep in during these very challenging times. 

As we approach Thanksgiving, this can be a time to pause and reflect on the good things that are happening all around us. Clearly being mindful of and holding these things within us, letting them sink in and take root is a welcome balm to sooth and reassure us we are going to be ok. 

We can use this time as a reboot to begin to see the good that gets lost among all the hard parts we are going through right now. This upcoming season is known for the light that comes through during the darkest part of the year. Gratitude can pave the way.

Consider starting a regular “gratitude practice”. There are many ways to do this. I am offering some examples to get you thinking as to you creating your own unique practice. 

Starting a Gratitude Practice

  • Dinner Gratitude Ritual – We can start this during this Thanksgiving Time or anytime we so desire. Having a nightly dinner ritual were we all let our family know what we are grateful or thankful or happy for that happened that day. Even if you live by yourself you can take note of the good that has occurred. What a lovely way to end of the day.
  • Blessing Jar or Happy Jar – This can be named in whatever way is a fit for you personally or for your family. It can be done just for yourself or for your family. This can be set up to be done spontaneously or can be done in a routine, set time. Some families like to do this during their weekly family meeting or Sunday meal together. You can experiment and see what fits best. Very simply have paper and pen next to a jar. I like to use mason jars and start with a new one each year, labeling what year it is. Of course, one could use a box or any other container. You or your family could decorate the outside of the container to personalize it if you would like. Or it could just be a simple jar with the year marked on the lid. Having a time when you review all your blessing each year is a nice way to end the year, reflecting on all the good that has occurred.
  • Gratitude Journal – This is normally done individually. But could be a family one as well. Most folks who do these will write down 3-5 things or as many as they like of what they feel grateful or thankful for that day. These can be very simple things. In fact remembering to notice these small things can really increase our good feelings. Some people will date their entry. Before going to bed is a great time to do this activity, letting all the good things sink in from the day.
  • Notes of Gratitude to Others – This is taking your gratitude practice to another level. When we share our gratitude with others it can feel so good to see how we have uplifted another person. It is a very special gift you have given. This of course can be done verbally as well. Sharing compliments and encouragement with our own family is so very important.
  • Gratitude Affirmations – You can collect or make up these affirmations of gratitude and thankfulness. Saying them at the beginning and / or end of the day or spontaneously when you feel you need them can help to rewire your brain to see more of the good. And isn’t this what we all want – to feel good.

Expressing gratitude for the good things in your life will lead to more good things. When we focus on the good, we find more good coming into our life. I wish you the very best as you begin your own gratitude practice.

Gratitude for the Small Things Grows Your Relationship


Do you give your loved one credit for when he or she “tries” to show their love or caring? Gratitude for these small steps can create a beautiful chain of more happiness and connection in your relationship.

Maybe it is not exactly what you had hoped for but it is a try or an effort toward what you do want. It is easy to get into a state of wanting it exactly the way you want it and standing firm that you will not be content unless it is that way. I am not saying you should give up on what you want or need, but that you should consider the “process” of getting where you want to be in your relationship.

Some Things to Consider as Loved Ones “Try” to Show Their Love and Caring:

  1. It does not have to be perfect. When you expect perfection and your sweetheart comes up short, it is a set up for dis-contentment or unhappiness. Maybe you want or hope for more. And that can come. But in the moment you can acknowledge the try or effort toward what you wanted or hoped for. Maybe you want a sharing of chores in the household. Your husband chooses to help with dishes one night. It may not be all you want, but it is a start. 
  2. Search for the parts in the try that feel good to you. Be mindful of what is being done or offered to you. It is Valentines Day and your husband brings you chocolates home. You like chocolate but you had hoped for something new and different. You can still enjoy the chocolates, savoring each piece knowing your spouse was thinking of what he knew you liked and was trying to please you. 
  3. Let your loved one know you appreciate what they did do. This will bring more of this your way and beyond. You have been telling your wife you would like to carve out more couple time away from the kids. You are thinking in your head a weekend away. She sets up a 2 hour date night. You choose to thank her for carving out this special one on one time to be just with you. 
  4. Let the good stuff from the try or effort sink in and stay with you. Let it nourish your inner self and know you are cared for. Let it be a part of you, not letting it slip away. Keep it as a touchstone to remember and build on.


Moving Toward More of What you Do Want:

  •  Do express your needs and desires. Do so in a calm, respectful manner, letting your partner know how this specific action will help to make you a better couple and increase happiness for both of you. Avoid demanding or insisting.
  • When these things occur let your happiness show, telling your partner how this makes you feel and express your thankfulness. This does matter. Your visible reaction and encouragement helps your loved one to know it is worth it.Plus it makes them feel very good as well. And it increases your chances of more connection.
  • Do illicit and ask your loved one what it is that THEY need or are hoping for in your relationship. Try to work toward these desires if it is a healthy request that could strengthen your relationship.

Let the small acts of love take root in your heart for they can grow and fill your soul with happiness and joy.

Professional Disclosure: This blog is offered as educational information and is not offered as professional therapeutic services. This is not intended to serve as treatment. For professional help contact your local mental health professional. Strom Individual and Family Therapy is not liable for any action or non action you take in regard to this article.



“Say One Thing You Are Thankful For About Your Family” Thanksgiving Activity

Thanksgiving animated picture nov 2015

Want to encourage your family to be thankful and appreciative of one another? I am always trying to think of ways to encourage this kind of interaction to take place in my own family and with the families I work with. We might remember to be thankful of those outside our family, but at times we overlook those closest to us. So let’s use Thanksgiving as a start point in remembering to show our thankfulness for our loved ones.

I have always liked the activity at Thanksgiving where you go around and tell one thing you are thankful for.This is a fun one to do around the dinner table.  This is fairly easy for most people to do. Most of us can think of one thing that we are thankful for. It is good to remind folks it can be a small thing. It does not have to be large. I have enjoyed this version, But I am thinking of another version for this Thanksgiving that I thought I might share.

“Say One Thing You Are Thankful For About Your Family.”

In this version you are encouraging the family to reflect about what they like about their family as a whole. It is easy to take family for granted. And Thanksgiving is a perfect time to think about this. Now it may be that you do not like everything or very much about your family. But my guess is that with some thought you can think of one thing you are grateful for. I might note that family can be the family you have created and gave birth to or it can be your family of origin.

If you really can not do this version, then go back to what you are in general thankful for. But you can use this as a time to think to yourself or with your partner or spouse what family attributes you wish to create that later your children will be thankful for. That is a bit deeper. But sometimes thinking ahead can be a good thing. What we project out is many times what we get back. It is sort of like goal setting or creating an intention.

I wish you all the very best of Thanksgivings!

Thankful orange picture with branches be thankful



How Counting Your Blessings Can Lead to More Happiness

Beautiful young woman looking in the mirror

Sometimes we don’t feel so blessed and we don’t feel so happy. We feel down and discouraged at times. We are human. It happens. So what can we do to create more happiness? And does “counting our blessings” really have anything to do with happiness? I think it does. Here is my take on how they interconnect with one another.


  • Decide for yourself, “What is a blessing?” You might ponder this a bit, what you consider a blessing. For me a blessing can mean multiple things. A blessing can be something that has in some way furthered what I consider my purpose OR has provided a basic need or a want OR has protected me in some way OR has brought me happiness or joy in some way  OR has been what I call a “good” or positive thing and more. Basically all the “GOOD” stuff that happens to us. That said, at times I know sometimes what we think is a negative thing or a closing of a door can in the end be a blessing or a good thing. 
  •  Actively be on the “look out” for the blessings you have in your life. Your blessings come in all sizes. And they all count! Sometimes it may feel like the smaller ones don’t count as much, but they do. Those little blessings accumulate and add up to make a true difference. So let what you call “little blessings” count. Actively look for them each and every day. Of course, you want to look for those medium and large blessings as well.
  • Every time you acknowledge your blessings, you activate more of them. It gives you a sense of hope when you are having a hard time and you notice the small blessings in your life. As you begin to notice them, you will find they start appearing and coming up more often. We attract what we focus on.
  • Talk about your blessings. Talk those blessings up. Tell your husband, your children, your friends, your co-workers and anyone else that you encounter. I am not talking about bragging, but letting others know what you appreciate about what is going on in your life. You may inspire others along the way to re-look at how they view life.
  • Be thankful for your blessings and express gratitude. This may be to a spiritual being or to a person who you feel had a hand in creating these blessing or both or to whatever fits for you. This expression of gratitude helps us to set in motion feelings of well-being or happiness.
  • Focus on your blessings and see your happiness grow! When we focus on what is good going on in our life – the little, the medium and big things, happiness finds us. It is a lovely circle we can create.

So count your blessings. You will be glad you did!


How to Get More of What YOU Want In Your Relationship with This Powerful Morning Ritual

4WaysToGetOutOfBed_56400221_n_lgAre there things you want in your relationship with your spouse or maybe with your child ? It may be you want more communication or more affection or time together. Regardless of what you want, you can use this simple, easy strategy to begin to get more of what you want. I am talking about using the powerful combination of Morning Gratitude and Intention. Here is the basic foundation of starting a Daily Morning Gratitude and Intention Practice.

1. Upon waking in the morning, before you get out of bed, think about what you are grateful for. In this case, as we are talking about your relationship, make sure to include what you are thankful for in regard to your relationship.  Be specific as you think about what you like that is going on in your relationship and how you appreciate these things. 

2. Then think about what you want in your relationship. Maybe it is for more communication with your spouse or maybe it is more hugs between the two of you, etc.

3. After you decide what you want then tell yourself what you want to have happen in PRESENT tense. This speeds the process.

Example: “I am communicating more with  _____________. I see us talking and connecting.”

Example: “I am spending more time with ___________. We are enjoying this time together.”

4. BELIEVE the intentions you have created.

5. Feel how good this will feel and visualize this happening.

6. Give thanks for what you foresee happening.


couple holding hands in the sunlight

This is a wonderful way to start your day. The more you do of this, the more it will work. We can set the tone and momentum for good things to happen in our relationships. We have more control that we think. Enjoy this creative wonderful process as you start your day!