By Dina Evan, PhD


Okay, maybe we need more than one month, during times like these to remind us to be grateful and give thanks. Advice to think positively during tough times may seem cliché, but there is significant scientific research showing positive thinking brings positive change to any situation, including the health of your body.

Therapists know every thought we have which gets repeated consistently, creates a neuronet in the brain. The more we think the same thought or feed the neuron, be it positive or negative, the quicker it becomes our default outlook and belief for every aspect of our lives.

Maybe instead of just being grateful and positive for one day this month, we use this time to create some new habits to create more positivity and health all year round. For instance, if we are not grateful and positive about our relationships or partners, we’ll view their actions through a veil of skepticism and negative interpretations.

If we perceive our bodies in a negative way, we lower our immune systems neurohormones and become more susceptible to disease — creating an immune system that can’t fight off illness. It’s exactly as the Native American Indians teach…what we focus on and feed, we create. This philosophy of having gratitude and positive energy is important in every aspect of our lives, including how we think, how confident and assured we feel, how we present ourselves to the outside world and how we feel about life changes and challenges. Unfortunately, this is not something most of us have in our tool bags, so no self-shaming… you don’t have the tools. Let’s look at how to create greater gratitude and joy even in hard times.


Start close to home

What gifts do you use daily you’re grateful for…your humanity, sense of touch, hearing, speaking, sobriety and sponsees, your ability to feel, intellect and understanding, ability to teach, and are for others? Your mobility and freedom? Your home, job and the money, whether $10.00 or $10,000.00 in the bank? Take a breath— be thankful for all of it. Embrace everything in your life as a gift — no matter the size or worth.

Next, become more aware of how much gratitude you already express in your life. When was the last time you told someone how grateful you are for them, or said thank you to the stranger at the grocery store who helps you out, sent that note to a parent or a teacher, sponsor or mentor from your past? What gifts did they give you? Which of those gifts have you integrated and are now giving forward?

Create some tools to help you until being grateful becomes a habit. When I first began learning about energy, I had yellow sticky notes in my closet, on the bathroom mirror, in my car, appointment book, until it became second nature to focus on the things that brought joy to my life. Because joy was an unknown emotion in my young life, I needed the notes to remind me every day until it became second nature. It’s all about feeding the thoughts you want which ultimately create your reality. Make a vow or say a prayer every morning to keep that in the forefront of your life and mind. Start a gratitude journal and write about what you are doing that creates a more positive awareness. Make a promise to yourself to become more thankful and aware everyday.

Look for new opportunities to give of your time, talent, wisdom, creativity and knowledge in order to create a positive difference. Commit to someone or someplace outside your normal circle to make a difference. You will be amazed by what a difference that makes in you!

Take time every day to take a deep breath and focus, by slowing down and noticing what you can see, hear, touch, smell, taste and love in your life. There doesn’t have to be a special day once a year in order to practice gratitude — maybe it’s as simple as feeling grateful for your morning coffee, the bird outside your window or your next meeting. Keep yourself and mind in the moment. Future-scaping is not helpful and usually comes from fear. Just be in the moment, in the now, and be grateful for everything and everyone that is here now.

And finally, know that those of us who are privileged to share our thoughts are giving thanks to Barbara for her blessing of publishing them, and to you for reading and sharing them. We wish you an amazing holiday season and a new beginning in 2022… filled of course with thanks giving all year.



Dr. Evan is a marriage, family, child therapist and consciousness counselor. She has presented nationwide seminars and workshops, written several books and created meditation CDs for couples, individual and mental health professionals. She has also won national acclaim as a human rights advocate. Visit or call 602-571-8228.