The how and why of practising gratitude

Gratitude, or appreciation for the good things that happen in life, is an essential part of building happiness. When you’re going through a tough time it can be hard to remember to be grateful for the good stuff, but there are a stack of benefits that can be gained from working gratitude into your everyday life. Find out more about ways to increase your gratitude and your awareness of things you can be grateful for.

This can help if:

  • you want a strategy for helping to deal with a tough time

  • you want to boost your mood

  • you want to cultivate awareness and appreciation for the good things in your life.

Girl smiling with backpack

What is gratitude?

Everyone has times when they feel aware of being thankful for a person or a situation. These moments give us a good feeling that we call ‘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.

The benefits of gratitude

Increasing your 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. We tend to remember when bad things happen, and the time we spend thinking about them makes us unhappy. But, if we make an effort to increase how often we experience gratitude, it can balance out some of the negative stuff.

That doesn’t mean that you should ignore/forget your problems, or that the things wrong with your life are unimportant. It just means that good memories will also stick in your mind, so you get to enjoy them for longer.

How to practise gratitude

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

  • Keep a gratitude journal. Take five minutes each day or once a week to think of and write down three things that have happened to you since the previous day or week that you’re glad you experienced.

  • Take pictures. Set yourself a mission to photograph little things in your everyday life that make you smile.

  • Tell someone you’re grateful to have them in your life. Whether it’s someone you look up to, or someone who just makes you happy, take the time to tell them you’re glad they’re around.

You don’t have to think up a whole bunch of really significant things in order to be grateful. You can be grateful for the smallest things, such as the sunshine, your morning coffee, or the fact that you made it to your train on time.

What can I do now?

  • Grab a notebook and start a gratitude journal.

  • Tell someone when you appreciate something that they’ve done.

  • Check out some more ways to improve your wellbeing.