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A More Beautiful Outlook on Life

by Alyssa Banks, who helps produce "The Matt Townsend Show"

Gratitude seems to be the recurring topic of December each year. Here are some great ways to increase your gratitude and happiness on a daily basis:

1. After waking up in the mornings, whether on the way to work, during breakfast or while getting dressed, think of all the positive things that happened to you the day before. Let yourself get excited over the happy things you experienced.

2. Choose your favorite song, and listen to it on the way to work. Belt out the words, even if your kids are in the car. You may find that you’re a little more excited about the upcoming day. Music truly has a way of playing with emotions. Why not use that to your advantage?

3. Purposely smile during the day. Let yourself laugh. According to Psychology Today, a typical four-year-old laughs up to 300 times each day. Unfortunately, the average 40-year-old only reaches about four. These numbers are sad, but that doesn’t mean we can’t change them.

4. Compliment someone. Sometimes I find myself thinking a compliment without ever expressing it to someone. Boost someone’s confidence, and let them know what characteristics make them admirable.

5. Take a power nap. Many countries have designated nap times built into their days. Since we have nothing like that, we need to create it ourselves. 15 minutes is enough time to fall asleep, and wake up feeling refreshed to tackle the rest of your day successfully.

6. Do something you love. Get creative, and find time to include hobbies in your daily schedule. Make it more interesting, and invite a friend or family member to join you.

7. Make mini bucket lists. What do you want to do before the end of the month? Think of something you know you wouldn’t do if you hadn’t made it a goal, and be sure to keep that goal attainable.

8. Have 3 fun conversations throughout the day. This could mean having a fun chit-chat with someone in the office. It could also mean calling a friend you know who will make you smile or having a fun conversation with a child who cracks you up every time you talk.

9. Write in a journal about the fun memories you’re making. Make it a point to reread these when you’re feeling down.

Enjoy the moments that come and go, and determine to make a positive difference in your life!

Holiday To-Do List

by Alyssa Banks, who helps produce "The Matt Townsend Show"

Holiday To-Do List:

1. Go caroling: This is too classic of a tradition to miss out on. Even if you feel slightly awkward singing to people while they stand on their doorsteps, it’s important to take your responsibility as a citizen to the next level by spreading holiday cheer.

2. Ice skating: This is a great winter activity that is fun for the whole family. You can make it relaxing and fun or competitive and fast paced. Either are possible when you hit the rink.

3. Watch Christmas movies: Whether you love “Elf,” “The Polar Express,” or “The Holiday,” or you don’t love any of these, it’s a great thing to gather around the TV, and enjoy some relaxation in the middle of all the holiday chaos.

4. Make a holiday treat: You can get ambitious and try something new, or keep annual traditions alive. There’s something about food that really brings people together.

5. Home make a gift: Choose someone among your friends and family, and make a homemade gift for them. It doesn’t have to be completely homemade. You could add your own D.I.Y. touch to something you buy.

6. Serve someone: Looking outward is the perfect way to feel the spirit of Christmas.

7. Start a new tradition with family or friends: Sit down, and talk about things you’ve always wanted to do over the holidays. Start this year!

8. Read a children’s Christmas book: These books are so fun to delve into deeply. From the intricate pictures to the reminiscent words, they always seem to bring you joy over the holidays.

9. Enjoy time with family: Don’t do anything in particular. Just enjoy down time with your family, and appreciate the break you hopefully have from work or school.

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