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The Benefits of Gratitude and some simple tips to add thanks to your day

Jul 18, 2020


For generations, religions and philosophers have practiced gratitude in their daily lives, and believe it to be a central contributor to health and wellbeing. 


Science and medicine are a bit later coming to the party, but have arrived with gifts nonetheless, and research now supports what many people have known for thousands of years - we feel better when we give thanks.


Gratitude has been called the single most powerful tool for increasing happiness. It takes little time, costs nothing, and doesn’t even need to involve other people (although this may help).


It is quick and easy and the benefits are enormous - so why aren’t more of us practicing gratitude in our daily lives?


The Benefits of Gratitude

The benefits of spending some time each day focusing on gratitude can be felt almost instantly. 


Studies show that implementing moments of gratitude into your life can improve your mental and physical health in a number of ways, including:

  • It can make you feel more optimistic about your life and give you a greater feeling of satisfaction every day
  • It can improve your alertness, determination, and enthusiasm
  • It increases your feelings of happiness and reduces a whole range of negative emotions including envy, frustration, and regret
  • It can reduce trauma and increase resilience, helping you to heal from psychological pain
  • People who record daily gratitudes have been shown to report feeling physically better, exercising more and sleeping better
  • Reporting gratitude daily can make you more likely to progress towards your set goals.
  • It can improve your relationships, as we feel more connected to others and may be more likely to help other people. We feel more empathetic and are less likely to judge or be aggressive towards others when practicing gratitude regularly.
  • We are better able to manage conditions like stress, depression, anxiety, and even physical pain.
  • We may place less focus on material goods.



What if you aren’t feeling it?

Gratitude is a feeling that may not come naturally to you, especially if your life has been anything but easy of late. You don’t need to start with forcing yourself to feel grateful, most exercises tend to just ask you to think about gratitude. 


Something as simple as daily reflections of gratitude, just thinking of things you are thankful for today, is a great place to start.


When you begin, a feeling of gratitude may only last seconds at a time, but when you practice it regularly, a general state of gratitude is more likely to become an ongoing personality trait. 


Like anything, gratitude gets easier and provides more benefits if you do this more often 


Practicing your gratitude regularly will increase its effects and make them more long-lasting, and more easily applied in everyday life. The more often you note your gratitude, the more easily it will appear at the top of your mind no matter what you are doing.


One study showed that a one time act of thoughtful gratitude produced an immediate 10% increase in happiness and a 35% reduction in depressive symptoms, but the effects disappeared over the course of months. 


However, when participants wrote down three things that went well and their causes every night for one week it had a long-lasting impact. Plus they were more likely to continue this practice on their own after the study was completed because they enjoyed it (and it’s benefits) so much.


Gratitude-based language

It helps to use gratitude based language in your everyday life, both when speaking to others and talking to yourself. You can start by saying things like, ‘thank you’, ‘appreciate’, ‘so grateful you…’, ‘blessed for the opportunity’, ‘thankful for’, etc.


Having a perspective of gratitude also provides a kinder, more positive state of mind for you to view things from. If you feel blessed to have experienced something, you put yourself in a more positive light, in that you are deserving and worthy of something to be grateful for.


Instead of apologising to your friend if you are late to meet them, say ‘Thank you for waiting for me. I really appreciate your time and patience.’


Simple tips to add gratitude to your day

One of the easiest ways to add a gratitude exercise is to make a gratitude journal, and fill it in every day, or once a week. For example, you could choose to list up to five things that you are grateful for while writing. 


Try to come up with ones you haven’t already listed, or to describe things in smaller details (such as describing the feeling of new or clean sheets or the qualities of your pillow, rather than just saying ‘my bed’).


Here are 10 ideas to get you started:

  • List five things you are grateful for today
  • List five people in your life who help you
  • List five body parts you like and state why
  • Write a letter to someone you are thankful for
  • Write three skills you have that improve your life
  • Write about a challenge and how you are better for having gone through it
  • Look for uplifting quotes to collect in your journal
  • Write the names of songs or some lyrics that inspire you
  • What are five things that make you smile
  • What is your favourite way to spend your day

This is not about planning for the day ahead, or detailing everything that happened in your day. It should focus only on the positives, on the things that were good and helpful, and for which you are grateful.


You will feel better in the moment while you are journaling, but you also have your journal as a resource to look back through whenever you are having a hard day.


Final Thoughts on Gratitude

Gratitude journaling, especially first thing in the morning or last thing at night, is a great way to put yourself into a relaxed and resilient state of mind. 


It helps you to put your thoughts into perspective and to organise a cluttered mind. It helps you to become more self-aware and to notice how you are feeling, as well as to view yourself with more compassion. 


It helps you to be more mindful and grounded and to be in the moment instead of worrying about the past or future. It makes it easier for you to notice small details and the good things that happen, and also help you to feel more accomplished.


Pairing gratitude with breath can amplify the sensation.  This audio can help you get started.





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