Kindness, Community, Mindfullness: Better living comes through gratitude

GAYLORD — As November comes to a close and we enter deeper into the holiday season, gratitude is something we all explore. This past month, Yoga-45 invited the members of the Gaylord community to participate in a gratitude challenge. When researching the challenge, Yoga-45 found a Harvard University study that revealed a daily gratitude practice had physical, spiritual, and social benefits. Surprising, no?! These benefits include stronger immune systems, lower blood pressure, better sleep, general alertness, positivity, and happiness, as well as, increasing compassion, generosity, and creating more forgiving natures.

Although here at Extra, we like to be cheeky and have fun, we also want to help spread better living. We paired down the gratitude challenge created by Erin Mann and Amy Mertz of Yoga-45 into a few simple steps you can follow at home.

• Paying it forward & Random Acts of Kindness: Donate your time to a good cause. Gaylord has a plethora of charitable activities. The Salvation Army is seeking volunteers to ring bells from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Saturday at kettle locations for a day-long ringing rally. To volunteer to ring, register online at or contact Salvation Army bell ringer coordinator Jenna Andrews at (989) 350-5526. Also, The Kiwanis Club of Gaylord will again pack food baskets for Otsego County residents. Otsego County schools will have a canned food drive. Come and share the experience of basket packing. For additional information, please call Judi Doan at (231) 499-1272

• Shop local businesses and restaurants, and attend community events to help the community grow. The Blind Squirrel, 1600 S. Otsego Ave., is hosting a winter kickball event to raise money for the Special Olympics at 11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 8.. Treetops Resort’s annual Extreevaganza starting at 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7 generates resources for the Otsego County Community Foundation to help meet needs and advance opportunities throughout our community.

“Having a gratitude practice shifts my focus in the same way,” said Mann of Yoga-45. “I have so many amazing persons, places and things around me, feeling blessed is easier than feeling stressed. Rather than being a pessimist, I can be more optimistic, by taking a few minutes an evening to journal about the “good stuff.”

Mann said simple acts like holding a door open for someone or buying a coffee for the person behind you are acts of gratitude that show you are grateful for what you have and are willing to share.

Be present, be mindful, let go of expectation, and be kind this holiday season. We are all doing the best that we can. Next time you get edgy, Mann says: “take a breath, be grateful for that breath and look around and feel gratitude for all the amazing things happening in that instant.”