How gratitude improves our happiness.

“Gratitude gives us the opportunity to acknowledge the good in our lives, whether it be in people, nature, or a simple cup of coffee.”

How giving thanks can improve our mental health and well being. In association with Happiness.com.

By now I’m assuming that we’ve all heard of the term gratitude even if it’s just in passing. Those of us within the mental health community may even practice gratitude on a daily basis as suggested by professionals or, simply, as part of our own self-care routine. But what is the purpose of gratitude and just how reliable is it as a means of improving our happiness?

Gratitude is basically giving thanks or appreciation for what we have and receive in life. When things seem nigh impossible there is always something to be grateful for, even if we can’t see it. While going through difficult times in our lives it’s often hard to see the ‘sky for the trees.’ We shield our eyes from the world around us and tend to focus only on the pain. For example, when we lose a loved one it’s easy to fall into a hole of anger and despair. When my beloved grandparents passed last year I had several days where I could see nothing but the bad in my life. It’s only now, a year later, that I’m able to feel grateful for the time I had with them. I’m no longer angry at the world or with the Gods for taking them. Instead, I’m happy they’re at peace and eternally grateful for the many years of happy memories.

“Gratitude gives us the opportunity to acknowledge the good in our lives, whether it be in people, nature, or a simple cup of coffee.”

Positive psychology research has long associated gratitude with improved feelings of happiness. Its thought to improve the positive emotions we feel, allows us to hold onto good experiences, enables us to better deal with adversity and even helps us to build and maintain healthy relationships.

What does the research say?

A study was carried out on three hundred university students seeking mental health counseling for a variety of reasons. Before beginning their therapy they were split into three separate groups. Group one was asked to write one letter of gratitude to another person every week for three weeks. The second group was asked to write about their thoughts and feelings in regards to negative experiences, and the final group was asked to carry on as normal. All three groups attending counseling throughout.

Compared with the groups who wrote about negative experiences or did nothing, those in group one reported better overall mental health and feeling more positive. They even reported significant positives changes to their mental health in the weeks after their writing exercises had ended. This proves that gratitude can have a major impact on not only our mental health but our general health as well. Although an excellent outlet for healthy individuals it can also be an invaluable source of positivity for those who struggle with their mental health on a daily basis. [Taylor & Francis. 2020.]

You can read more about this study here.

3 ways to show gratitude.

Practice gratitude everyday.

You can practice gratitude on a daily basis by keeping a gratitude journal. Each morning when you wake, or before you go to bed, write down three things that you’re grateful for. This can be something as simple as a morning hug from your partner, a cuddle with your pet, or even just how lovely the weather is.

Gratitude doesn’t have to include extravagant things like vacations or a new car. It’s found in the simplest and smallest of ways. Calvin Holbrook of Happiness.com shows us how living a simple life can improve our happiness and overall mental health. Not only does simplicity prevent us from overspending in order to feel better, but it allows us time to focus on what we already have. All in all, it removes the continuous need for distraction so we can better deal with what we’re trying to avoid.

You can read more on how living a simple life can improve happiness here.

Need a gratitude journal? You can sign up for the mailing list and get the free gratitude journal printable. Alternatively, I suggest using Evernote or getting your hands on a motivational notebook.

Give thanks to those who have helped or inspired you.

As proven by the above study giving thanks to the people in our lives can help stir and nourish positive feelings. Take the time to send a letter to someone who has been there for you through a difficult period. Or you could send a letter, text, or email to check in on someone who you admire. Let them know how much you value them as a person. Not only will this benefit you but it’ll also provide a much needed pick me up to the recipient.

I love sending and receiving messages of thanks. They help to remind me who I am and motivate me to continue to do and be better.

Take a walk through nature.

During COVID-19 I’ve been taking more time to explore the surrounding countryside. I’ve walked up country lanes, through fields, along abandoned paths and under canapes of trees. Prior to lock down I didn’t take the time to walk through my local countryside but now I’ve found some beautiful places to spend time with nature, something I could never do in the city.

Take some time to give thanks to mother nature. Listen to the sounds of the country. The trees rustling, the birds chirping and feel the sun on your skin. Even if it’s raining we have something to be thankful for.


How do you practice gratitude? Have you found it improves your overall happiness?

References.
  1. Taylor & Francis. 2020. Does Gratitude Writing Improve The Mental Health Of Psychotherapy Clients? Evidence From A Randomized Controlled Trial. [online] Available at: <https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10503307.2016.1169332?scroll=top&needAccess=true&journalCode=tpsr20> [Accessed 12 May 2020].

91 comments

  1. Gratitude is a big part of my life. When my mother in law died 6 years ago I began posting three positives a day on facebook. I did it for about 6 months and I have benefited from that exercise ever since. I find it easy to identify the positives in my day now, even if it was a tough one. Being grateful for what you have in life is most definitely a game changer. Thanks for the post!

  2. Visit my site chhayaonline.com to read ”Collection of mental health posts, You never have been read these types of posts in your life. Thanks for choosing this topic. As this is the base of my life. Hope everything will get me with it. Thanks for your nice post.

  3. I started working on a gratitude journal about 6 months ago and have noticed a dramatic improvement in my overall well-being! Focusing on all the positives in my life has really helped me obsess less on what is wrong.

  4. I Agree. Being grateful can be remedial for both mental and physical health. It reduces aggressiveness that can strengthen relationships and gain self-esteem. Thanks for this wonderful post I loved reading it.

  5. Focusing on the positive aspects of our lives is such a powerful tool, and being grateful for them takes it yet another step. Thanks for this important post.

  6. thank you!! mental health is so important im always looking for ways to improve it.

  7. Great post Nyxie! Showing gratitude is so important. It really can change your life

  8. I’ve been making more of an effort to practice gratitude daily. It’s been helping to boost my mood and change my outlook on life. Great post! And thanks for sharing.

  9. Yes! I totally agree. It’s something I’m always nagging my kids about but then realise that they probably don’t see it or hear it from me because I feel gratitude but don’t really express it! Food for thought.

  10. Whenever I practice gratitude everyday, I felt really good and feels like the nature gives me continuous blessings. And who would not say no for that?

  11. I think that we have to practice gratitude everyday. We have to be grateful for all the things we experience even the bad experiences that serve as learning moments

  12. Gratitude can always bring a person to have a positive outlook in life. It helps in renewing of the mind. Be grateful in every little things aroud us. Live life in full.

  13. Being grateful can make everything happy and beautiful. Thanks for this post.

  14. I love this! Before bed I set aside 10 minutes to do my devotional and thank God for everything good in my life. It really helps keep my mind on a positive track.

  15. I am so lucky to live in a beautiful part of the country with many different hiking trails close at hand. I have definitely taken the time to get out there and walk the trails, appreciating just how special they are. That’s high on my list of things I try to focus on while feeling ‘trapped’ during this lockdown – that and the fact that we have a nice backyard where I can sit outside with the dogs and enjoy the sun. I may not be able to go far, but at least I can still enjoy the fresh air and sunshine on those beautiful days. There are far worse places to be ‘trapped’, right?

  16. This is a wonderful article. Thank you! I have the book: Attitude of Gratitude, and it’s a constant reminder to live life in appreciation. You are absolutely right. Gratitude is so important for our health and wellness, especially mental health. Thanks for the beautiful reminder. Cheers!

  17. Thank you for writing yet another uplifting post. I truly believe gratitude is the elixir of life – the one attitude that can raise us above all negativity that life throws our way.

  18. I really liked this post, there are some good tips to follow. Two of my favorite words are here, gratitude and happiness. They are perfect together. – Amalia

  19. I end my day with a prayer of gratitude. Being thankful during the lowest moments in my life has helped me in overcoming situations.

  20. During these uncertaint times gratitude gets me through. When you practice good habits I find each day gets better and easier to deal with hard things.

  21. i believe that what you think you attract. If you think thoughts of gratitute and be happy for all you have then you attract more of that!

  22. I have been trying to practice daily gratitude. Writing things I’m thankful for down, but also when a good moment happens, just being more intentional about soaking it in and appreciating it.

  23. I just started doing gratitude meditation every morning. It’s truly a life changing experience. In just 2 weeks since I started I already feel so much better, mentally. Love your tips.

  24. You are so right. I (most of the time) try to think of five things to be thankful for when I am having a hard time or going through a difficult situation. It really puts things in perspective.

  25. Gratitude has really added a lot to my life in recent times. It has helped me to really appreciate life more and see that things are never as bad as they seem. I loved the post . It was a really great reminder.

  26. That study is so interesting! It really is all about what we focus on. I know that taking a moment to try to reframe a situation into something positive can help turn around my perspective instantly!

  27. Hi! I truly love this post! I am consciously applying the attitude of gratitude on my day to day. Not always easy as there are still things that an irritate and frustrate me, but I’m definitely managing my negative thoughts and emotions better this time around. By focusing on what excites me, what grows me, and most importantly on the people who love me no matter how distant they physically are.

  28. I’ve found this practice to be very helpful for my mental health. Just shifting our though pattern to focus on all we have instead of have not is truly transformative. Thanks for your insight.

  29. This is a great article and for something that seems so small, expressing gratitude can have profound impacts. I’ve been using an accountability buddy during covid19 quarantine to keep a gratitude journal and it’s been really helpful for me.

  30. Practicing gratitude has been something I’ve forgotten about frequently these last few months. But when I do it, it usually helps get my brain focused on the positive if nothing else. I usually journal or write out a gratitude list when I do it. I never think about actually reaching out to show others who have inspired me gratitude as a way to practice. ???? Thanks for this helpful reminder!

  31. Sending you so much love pet. Medication changes on top of everything else can be so, so awful. Thank you so much for taking the time to pop in and read this. I hope it was helpful. x

  32. Much informative blog….Being grateful for everything is the only best thing a person can do to make yourself happy… this is just awesome Thanks for reminding again of being grateful for everything….Everyone should be grateful

  33. Yes I couldn’t agree more! The more time I spend feeling grateful for the things around me, the things I already have, the skills I possess, etc. the happier I feel! Thank you for sharing ????

  34. This is so important! Practising gratitude can make you feel so much appreciative of what you have and can keep your grounded. Thank you for sharing!

  35. I think that we have to practice gratitude everyday. We have to be grateful for all things we can experience even the bad experience art lessons.

  36. I am a firm beliver of gratitude and being thankful for whatever I have, be it the nature around, my family or friends or my profession and sometimes very small and negligible things. I truly feel its a major reason for me being content and happy.

  37. I totally agree! Gratitude is so important and can really help us to view the positives over the negatives in our lives. Such a great post, thanks for sharing!

  38. I love practicing gratitude. I think even my happy days moment each day could be classed as gratitude because some days it seems as though there may be no reason to feel happy but when I look back on a day, it doesn’t take me long to realise that actually I have a lot to be thankful and grateful for.

    It is definitely a mindset changer!

  39. An exercise that I am learning to do is to give thanks every week, it is true that gratitude has a great power over happiness and calmness.

  40. This is something I am actively trying to work on. I do have a gratitude journal, but find that I don’t use it very much.. but I have been using a plain notebook and exploring gratitude and what I am grateful for. I’ve been struggling so much lately, going through another medication change, and I am finding that keeping focused on the good in my life and having it written down is helpful when I’m feeling crappy. Thank you so much for another amazing article.

  41. Practicing Gratitude is a huge help for me in tough times. The more I do it the more I look for the little things in life to be grateful for.

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