As you gather around the dinner table with your family, friends, stuffed turkey, favorite side dishes and pumpkin pie this week, it is a popular time of year to give thanks and appreciation for the people and things you have in your life. But, being thankful shouldn’t only happen one day out of the year. Celebrate being thankful for what you have and those you love every day by incorporating the following gratitude characteristics into your lifestyle. Be Content with Yourself and Your Belongings In today’s world of being better than the rest, buying a better car and having the best-paying job it’s easy to get sucked into comparing yourself to others and focusing on what you don’t have. But by only focusing on your own little world and what’s missing in your life you can miss out on living a truly grateful life that positively influences those who are around you. To discover true happiness and gratitude within yourself, it’s important to readjust your perspective and don’t judge yourself by outward looking things such as cars, houses, jobs and materialistic goods. At the end of each day, take a moment to reflect on something good about yourself or a positive situation you experienced. Also, identify ways you can help others or make a difference in someone else’s life moving forward. By stepping outside of yourself and focusing on living in the moment, you will be in a better state of mind to experience real joy and appreciate what you have. “Just because someone has a fancy car, it doesn’t mean their life is perfect or more meaningful than yours,” said Victoria Shiffler, massage therapist at Elements Greenville. “You can’t judge a book by the cover. So don’t judge yourself by what you do and don’t have. I think it’s more important to thank God for being able to wake up each morning.” Show Thanks for the People Who Mean the Most Surrounding yourself with good friends and family members can be one of the most valuable assets in your life. In this day and age with many materialistic tendencies, though, there sometimes isn’t much value placed on just being there for someone. Get back to the basics of human companionship by reaching out to your friends to make a dedicated effort to grow your relationship and show them that you love them. By communicating your feelings and sharing with others you trust, you can support your friends during their time of need while gaining a fresh perspective on life. Set a Good Example for the Next Generation It is never too early to start your kids on the path of giving thanks for what they have. Sometimes, all they need is someone to show them how. Meredith McCullough, massage therapist at Elements Timonium, makes it a point every season to go through her family’s clothes, toys and canned goods with her 7-year-old son to gather donations for a local charity. “It makes it more meaningful for my son and I to pick out these things together,” shares McCullough. “It’s such an important tool to teach our children to be grateful, humble and appreciate the things they have.” Give Back to the Community You Live In Canned food drives and turkey donations are popular this time of year. But your community and the less fortunate people who live in it typically need support year round. Reaching out to local groups on a regular basis throughout the year -- whether it’s senior citizens, school-aged children or struggling families -- can be a powerful way for you and your family to provide meaningful support to your own community. When you give back to the community, it can be a humbling experience when you see firsthand the amount of people in your neighborhoods that don’t have enough food for their families to eat, a roof over their heads or shoes and clothes without holes in them. The simple act of volunteering at a soup kitchen, donating your clothes or providing school supplies for children can make all the difference in your community. “With all of the money we spend on Christmas, Thanksgiving and Halloween, you can give a couple cans of food each week to help feed those who don’t have enough food to eat,” suggests Shiffler. Make Thanksgiving more meaningful by making it a point to appreciate the things and people you have in your life not only on this special day, but throughout the rest of the year. As you go around the Thanksgiving table sharing what you are thankful for, take this opportunity to motivate yourself to set a good example by doing more for others and being more grateful for yourself and your loved ones.