What are you grateful for? While you may be overwhelmed by the challenges that you’re facing, taking time out to think about what you’re grateful for has numerous benefits. Get your day off to a great start by taking a moment to write down what you’re thankful for. From improved emotional well-being to better relationships, you’ll be much happier when you acknowledge the things that you appreciate in your life.

What is gratitude?Gratitude is the habit of being thankful for the good things in your life. This emotion can be likened to deep feelings of appreciation. Rather than a quick ‘thank you’, gratitude refers to a heartfelt appreciation which has longer lasting effects. Gratitude encompasses feeling thankful for what you receive, including physical items as well as the intangible. Practicing gratitude involves acknowledging the good things in your life. Feelings of appreciation have a strong social function as they help to initiate and maintain relationships by acknowledging what other people have done for your benefit.

What are the benefits of gratitude?

  • Improved connection

Are you feeling lonely? Try showing gratitude to the new people that you meet as research suggests that saying a heartfelt ‘thank you’ increases the chances that an ongoing friendship will be established. Taking the time to tell your loved ones why you’re grateful for them can help to strengthen the connections that you have with the people who are already part of your life.

  • Reduced stress

Starting a gratitude practice can play a role in stress reduction. With the pressures of our fast paced lifestyles, many people are faced with skyrocketing stress levels. When you focus on the positive aspects of your life, its helps to elevate your mood and reduce anxiety. Over time, a daily practice of gratitude helps you to develop a more optimistic outlook on life.

  • Happiness

We all want to lead happier lives and cultivating a gratitude practice can help to lift your mood. Focusing on what you’re thankful for can also improve your feelings of life satisfaction.

  • Better physical health

Poor health can prevent you from making the most out of life. When you’re feeling healthy, you can get out there and enjoy life, which gives you even more moments to be grateful for. Research shows that feelings of appreciation can contribute to your physical well-being. Grateful people tend to have healthy lifestyles, which include exercising and going for check-ups. Studies suggest that they also have less aches and an increased sense of feeling healthy.

  • Improved emotional well-being

Gratitude can have a cathartic effect by helping you to release emotions. Feelings of jealousy and envy can be released when you start to focus on what you have in your life rather than concentrating on what you’re lacking. Feelings of appreciation can also ease frustration as well as regret. A gratitude practice can play a role in decreasing depression.

  • More self confidence

Feelings of appreciation can boost your self confidence. Social comparisons contribute to feelings of inadequacy. However, when you’re focusing on what you’re grateful for in your own life, you’re less likely to compare yourself to others. Whether it’s on the sports field or at work, self-confidence contributes to improved performance. Not only do feelings of appreciation improve your self-image, they also help you to have empathy for others. Grateful people are more likely to respond kindly even when others are not acting empathetically. 

Gratitude practices

Now that you know more about the benefits of gratitude, you may be wondering how you can incorporate feelings of appreciation into your daily life.  You can get creative and develop your own gratitude practices to enhance your life. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

  • Write a gratitude letter

Write a letter to someone who has been kind to you but who you haven’t thanked properly. Start by thinking of a person who has done something special for you. Once you know who you’re writing the letter to, consider the benefits that you experienced because of their kind action. Next express your feelings of appreciation by writing a letter. Last but not least, meet with the person to give them your letter.

  • Show your appreciation to your partner

You can improve your relationship with your partner by starting a relationship gratitude diary. Take time each day to acknowledge what your partner has done for you and what you appreciate about them. When you’re writing in your diary include the benefits that their kind actions have had on your life. At the end of the week you can share what you write in your diary with your partner. 

  • Create a gratitude jar

Another great idea is to make a gratitude jar where you write down what you’re thankful for onto pieces of paper and slip it into the jar.Having the jar somewhere visible reminds you to take a few moments out of your day to acknowledge the good things in your life. Going back and reading what you wrote is fun and it helps to show you what is important to you in your life. If you’re having a bad day, you can use the contents of your gratitude jar to put things in perspective.

  • Pause for a moment of reflection

 Make a habit of ending each day with a moment of reflection on what you’re grateful for. Before you drift off to sleep, think about a few of the positive things that occurred that day. You can take this practice one step further by writing your appreciative thoughts down in a gratitude journal.

  • Share gratitude with your family

Cultivate a culture of gratitude in your home by encouraging your family to share their feelings of appreciation with each other. Dinner time is a great opportunity to express gratitude as each family member can take a moment to share what they’re thankful for before you enjoy a meal together.

Now that you know more about gratitude, you can start to implement these practices in your daily life. Once you experience the benefits for yourself, it will be easy to cultivate an attitude of appreciation.


author avatar
Angel Rivera
I am a Bilingual (Spanish) Psychiatrist with a mixture of strong clinical skills including Emergency Psychiatry, Consultation Liaison, Forensic Psychiatry, Telepsychiatry and Geriatric Psychiatry training in treatment of the elderly. I have training in EMR records thus very comfortable in working with computers. I served the difficult to treat patients in challenging environments in outpatient and inpatient settings
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