Be Grateful on Roof Over Your Head Day

Ah, December. In many parts of the country, the winter winds howl. Snow and ice greet commuters each morning. Driveways must be shoveled; sidewalks must be cleared. It's easy to become a bit grumpy.

But if it's December 3, you might remember that this is also a day to be grateful, even as you shiver and shovel your way to the end of the drive. It's Roof Over Your Head Day, an excellent time to remind us about all that we have to be thankful for -- including the snow, the shovel and your strong body!

Gratitude should be more than a one- or two-day celebration each year. It should be a way of life, a part of our daily routine.

Robert Emmons of the University of California Davis asked a group of subjects to record "five things every week they were grateful for." At the end of two months, those who did so reported greater progress toward achieving their personal goals than those who had not participated in the journal activity. Gratitude can also keep people healthier and help them deal with stress and daily problems, Emmons found.

So how can you celebrate this Roof Over Your Head Day? Join the students from Emmons' study and start your own gratitude journal. List things each day that you are grateful for and explain why.

Inspiration Peak provides a collection of gratitude quotes that would be helpful in getting your journal entries going. Here's one to consider:

"If you have food in your refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof over your head and a place to sleep, you are richer than 75 percent of the world." While the author is unknown, the sentiment is powerful.

Other sources support the idea of that quote. One Web site, The Just Life, has compiled some pretty grim numbers about the lives of the world's poor. The site reports that:

  • Worldwide, 100 million people have no housing at all, while 1 billion lack adequate housing.
  • The number of homeless in Western Europe, an estimated 3 million, is the highest since the end of World War II.
  • The number of homeless in the United States is about 3.5 million, and many of those are children.

You don't have to focus on the misery and misfortune of others to develop a grateful spirit. But sometimes such sobering truths can put things in perspective.

If you want to celebrate Roof Over Your Head Day, consider giving the old home a good cleaning. That way, you'll also be ready for other December holidays that are approaching. Sparkling windows and polished furniture are something to be grateful for, after all. Or do a quick fix-up, such as painting a room or replacing a dated light fixture. You need not spend much. The point is to celebrate what you have and be thankful.

Also consider spending the day volunteering at a homeless shelter, a soup kitchen or with an organization like Habitat for Humanity. If you're so inclined, make a donation to help those who need a roof over their head. Then write about the experience in your gratitude journal. Chances are, you'll have a lot to say!

However you celebrate on Roof Over Your Head Day, you'll be taking the first step toward creating a more positive and fulfilling life for yourself. The immediate feelings are so rewarding, you'll find that it easily becomes a habit and then a way of life. This December holiday may even be the one that you remember most in the years to come.

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