All about gratitude

Gratitude or appreciation for the good things that happen in life is a really important part of building happiness. There are a number of benefits that can be gained from working gratitude into your everyday life. Find out more about ways to increase gratitude and some suggestions of how to become aware of things you can be grateful for.

What does gratitude mean?

  • Appreciating the good things in your life
  • Boosting your mood
  • Increasing positive feelings
  • Coping better with tough times
Feet sticking upwards from tall green grass

What is gratitude?

Everyone has times where they feel appreciative or thankful for a person or a situation. These moments of thinking about the past in a positive way give us a good feeling, and have been named ‘gratitude.’

Feeling grateful just happens sometimes, but you can also make a special effort to increase how often you feel it. Research has shown that people with high levels of gratitude experience a whole bunch of benefits, so it’s a great idea to increase your own.

Benefits of gratitude

Increasing gratitude is useful because:

  • It’s an instant mood booster and feels great in the moment
  • You’re likely to feel closer to friends and family
  • You’re likely to enjoy your life more
  • It’s good for your physical health
  • It’s easier to cope with tough times
  • Good things in life don’t stick in our heads as easily as bad events

This last point is really important. When bad things happen, we don’t really forget it, and people can spend a lot of energy thinking about what makes them unhappy. But, if you make an effort to increase how often you experience gratitude, it can balance out some of the negative stuff.

That doesn’t mean:

  • You ignore/forget the problems that you have; or
  • That the things wrong with your life are unimportan

It just means that good memories will also stick in your mind, so you get to enjoy them for longer.

Ways to increase gratitude

Experiencing more gratitude is easy and doesn’t take much time. Try these ideas and see what works best for you:

  • Gratitude journal. Take five minutes each day or once a week to think of three things that happened in your life that you are glad you experienced. Then write them down somewhere.
  • Take pictures. Set yourself a mission to photograph little things in your everyday life that make you smile.
  • Tell someone. Whether it’s someone you look up to, or who just makes you happy, take a bit of time to tell them that you’re glad they are around.

What are the sorts of things I would be thankful for?

You can be thankful for anything in your life that makes you feel positive on some level. Some bigger things could include:

  • Friends and family
  • Achieving a goal
  • Appreciating where you live and the opportunities you have

However, you don’t need to limit your gratitude to big picture ideas. Positive things that seem small and happen every day are also worth focusing on.

Some small things could include:

  • An hilarious joke you heard from a friend
  • A great day out somewhere
  • A sunny day

What can I do now?

  • Grab a notebook and start a gratitude journal.
  • Tell someone when you appreciate something they’ve done.
  • Think of three things that you’re grateful for once every week.
Last reviewed: 13 August, 2015
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