This holiday, replace your wish list with a gratitude list. It’s easy to focus on all the things you would like to have or to think about how you would like to change yourself or your life, but, instead, consider what you have and celebrate who you are now.

As Dr. Michael Beckwith often says, “cultivate an attitude of gratitude.”

Many of us are blessed with the truly important things in life, such as health, family, friends, freedom, relative peace, and a place to call home. It can be easy to take these blessings for granted, but it only takes a moment of realization that any one of these things could be taken away (such as hearing of another’s loss or illness) to feel a flood of gratitude for what really matters in our lives. These are the gifts to cherish.

Also, cherish your own unique self. As the New Year approaches, we often make resolutions about what we would like to change. Keep in mind that we are all, and will continue to be, a work in progress. So celebrate all that you are today. We can even strive to be grateful for the challenges or seeming misfortunes in our lives. While we may not be able to recognize it in the moment, often these challenges are filled with opportunities.

5 Tips for Cultivating Gratitude

1. If you are in a place where it is difficult to feel grateful, each night before bed, find one thing in your day that you can be thankful for, even if it’s as simple as the sun shining or a smile from a stranger. Living from a place of gratitude not only makes us feel better, but often, the things we wish for may come to us sooner. By placing attention on the positive things in our lives, we tend to seek and draw in more of the positive, so what we are thankful for will multiply in our lives.

2. You can create a gratitude journal or a simple list on a scrap of paper. If you would like, you can place that list somewhere in your home where you can see it everyday. Or if you’d like to keep it private, place it in a box or in a special book and put it near your bed so you can add to it often.

3. It has been said that the highest form of prayer is giving thanks. Instead of praying “for” things, give thanks for what you already have. And have faith that what you still desire is already within you—that on some level, what you desire is already manifesting in your life, you just may not see it yet. But you can still be grateful that it is all unfolding right here and right now.

4. Be filled with the holiday spirit. Start by being grateful and doing small kindnesses for people you come into contact with everyday—your co-worker, your child’s teacher, your local grocer. Be present and aware of those around you, and you will find many opportunities to make a small gesture. If you see someone who needs a hand, whether it is helping to carry a neighbor’s groceries or assisting a co-worker who needs help on a project or opening the door for someone at the coffee shop, each kind gesture has a ripple effect that leads to other acts of kindness.

5. Giving back is an important next step to feeling and expressing gratitude. Find a cause or charity that has meaning to you or your loved ones and consider donating your time and/or resources.

Sisters Laura and Alison Forbes are authors, speakers, bloggers, consultants, and co-founders of the home and lifestyle company Inspired Everyday Living. They write and speak about personal development through the home and believe that our homes are connected to all aspects of our well-being and influence all parts of our lives. Therefore, when you change your home, you change your life. They are the authors of The Peaceful Nursery: Preparing a Home for Your Baby and have recently developed three iPhone apps: Easy Feng Shui, Feng Shui for Love, and, as a companion to their book, The Peaceful Nursery App. To learn more about Laura and Alison, visit their website or follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

*Photo by Amy Rachlin Studio