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Count Your Blessings: 30 Day Gratitude Challenge

In the fall of 1621, after a grim year, the pilgrims celebrated their bountiful harvest with a feast. Four centuries later, we continue that tradition of gratitude around our Thanksgiving tables. And as the food feeds our bodies, expressions of gratefulness—voicing good fortune, being thankful—nourish us in other ways. According to a variety of recent studies, feeling gratitude instead of feeling sorry for yourself may reduce headaches and respiratory infections, lessen depression, increase empathy, foster better sleep, and improve the ability to overcome trauma. The key? Practicing gratitude must be more than a one-day-a-year habit.

In honor of Thanksgiving, try a gratitude challenge. This month, instead of counting your blessings only on the fourth Thursday, practice gratefulness all 30 days, one small act at a time. To get you started, we offer 30 prompts, some for you, some toward others.

The Little Book of Gratitude by Joanna Gray, $9.99 at Ruby’s Books in Folsom,


1) Start a gratitude journal. Each day, record three things you’re thankful for. Find a pretty notebook at Ruby’s Books (, Face in a Book (, or Spin Gifts (

2) Sincerely compliment a stranger. “You have the best laugh”; “I like your style”; or “You’re wonderful at your job" are all great examples.

3) Donate used items in good condition to Snowline Hospice (, Placer SPCA Thrift Store (, or Compassion Thrift Store (

Send than you cards.


4) Send a thank you note to a friend, your mom or dad, a coworker, etc. expressing how  much you appreciate them. Even better, purchase one handmade locally by Jill Nieporte (!

Karen's Bakery and Café photo by Ray Burgess © and wholly owned by Style Media Group


5) Invite an acquaintance to brunch or lunch, especially someone who might be lonely. Wondering where to treat them? Friends with Benedicts Mimosa House (, La Provence Restaurant & Terrace (, and Karen’s Bakery and Café ( all have mouthwatering menus and inviting environs.

6) Take yourself on a coffee "date": Splurge on an artful latte from your favorite barista. We love Totem Coffee Co. (, Shady Coffee and Tea (, and Reset: Café by Day (

7) Say "please" and "thank you" as often as you can.

8) Compile a book of favorite family recipes for your relatives. Finish the pages with anecdotes, drawings, and photos. Looking for some Style-tested (and approved) recipes? Turn to page 76.

9) Donate your kids’ unwanted LEGO bricks to Teach for America. Shipping is free.

10) Call your mom.

11) Embrace nature. Revel in the sights, sounds, and smells of the air, flowers, critters, and dirt.

12) Get even closer to nature by planting a garden. Green Acres Nursery & Supply ( can advise you on winter planting in our temperate zone.

13) Tip well for good service. The past year has been rough on people who serve.

14) Accept compliments with grace—you deserve them.

15) Volunteer to help others at a nonprofit whose mission you believe in.

16) Let your phone remind you to be grateful each day. Find free apps online.

17) Practice random acts of kindness: Pick up the person’s tab behind you on your next coffee run or at the drive-through.

18) Write a thank you letter to a teacher who inspired you some years ago.

19) Treat yourself (and a friend) to a Folsom Lake Symphony performance—the perfect counterpoint to urban noise. Next month’s show, Holiday Treasures (December 11-12), is sure to delight.

PlacerGrown Farmers' Market at the Fountains


20) Browse through your local farmers’ market and reap healthful goodies while supporting area growers.

21) Channel George Bailey ("It’s a Wonderful Life") and remind yourself of the ways this world would be less happy if you weren’t here.

22) Write short, moving memoirs, 100 words or less, then email them to Reader’s Digest at

Sunrise photo by Jim Cunningham


23) Walk at sunrise on a nature trail.

24) For one day, don’t complain about anything, even to yourself.

Gather Studio + Events


25) Take a class in something creative—painting, quilting, soap-making—and give your creations as gifts. Check Full Sol Market (, Not Too Shabby (, and Gather Studio + Events ( for upcoming workshops.

26) When it’s safe, be generous with hugs.

27) Write a happy message on your sidewalk with chalk.

28) Send cheerful letters and care packages to someone in the military. Rolling Hills Blue Star Moms ( is a great local resource.

29) Write a positive review online of a local product or business.

30) List everything you’re grateful for—and let the list grow long.

When December 1 arrives, check your holiday spirit. Is it higher this year?

by Linda Holderness
Karen's Bakery and Café photo by Ray Burgess. Farmers' market photo courtesy of PlacerGROWN. Gather Studio + Events photo courtesy of Gather Studio + Events. Sunrise photo by Jim Cunningham.

Photos by Ray Burgess © and wholly owned by Style Media Group—please don’t steal our copyrighted photos. For more information about our editorial photos, please click here to contact us <<LINK TO