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Being Grateful

In psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.

People on a balcony clapping and looking happy

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What is it?

  • Practising gratitude can mean different things to different people. From daily journaling to evening prayers, gratitude practice can take many forms.
  • Gratitude is simply defined as the state of being grateful. It involves expressing thanks or appreciation for something, from a gift to life itself.
  • Gratitude involves recognition of the positive things in your life and how they affect you. This can range from acknowledging a beautiful flower you pass to the feeling of thanks that comes from recovering from illness.

How does it help?

There are plenty of reasons to practice gratitude, including benefits to your overall mental health and well-being. Regular practice has been shown to have measurable positive effects on health.

Boosts The Immune System

  • Gratitude has been shown to help contribute to an overall sense of well-being.
  • Stress lowers the immune response to potential bodily threats, whereas increased mental well-being can help your body fight off illness.

Improves Mental Health

  • Gratitude is one of many factors that contributes to positive mental health outcomes. Research has shown that regularly practising gratitude can help ease symptoms of anxiety and depression. Studies have noted that gratitude was linked to improved mood.
  • Practising gratitude fosters positive feelings and can contribute to a sense of well-being when done regularly.

Improved Relationships

  • Gratitude not only improves your physical and mental well-being; it may also improve your relationships.
  • Gratitude plays a key role in forming relationships, as well as in strengthening existing ones.

Increased Optimism

  • Being an optimistic person can have plenty of health benefits. If you’re not naturally optimistic, gratitude practice can help you cultivate an optimistic outlook.
  • Research has shown that it took just 10 weeks of regular gratitude practice for participants to feel more optimistic and positive about their present lives and the future.

How do I do it?

Ten instant ways to practice being grateful

  • paying attention to the little things in life, like the birds in the trees
  • telling someone you’re grateful for them or for something they did, even if it was a long time ago
  • doing something kind for someone in your life to express your gratitude
  • meditating on the positive aspects of your life
  • Pick a random photo, and write about why you're grateful for that memory
  • Write about something you're looking forward to
  • Write about something in your life that you have now that you didn't have a year ago
  • Reflect on a time you made a mistake and what you learned
  • Being thankful to the person who cooked for you
  • Being thankful for your good health or good health of those around you

Other ideas on how to practice being grateful

Gratitude Journaling

  • Gratitude journaling is a technique that involves keeping a diary of things you’re grateful for every day. This is one of the most popular ways to practice gratitude.
  • Some good starting points are to recount a favourite moment from the day, describe a special person in your life, or list five things you’re grateful for that day.
  • It doesn’t even have to be a physical journal. It can be as simple as a note in your phone. This makes it easier to quickly record something you feel grateful for in the moment.

Gratitude Mapping

  • Gratitude mapping is perfect for visual learners. It involves creating a visual mood board of everything you’re grateful for. You then place this board somewhere in your home to remind yourself to be grateful every day.

Gratitude Jars

  • Gratitude jars are a simple idea that’s easy to put into practice.
  • Whenever something good happens or you feel thankful for something, write it down on a piece of paper and put it in a jar. Next time you’re feeling down, give the jar a shake and pick out one slip of paper.
  • This technique will remind you of something good in your life that you can appreciate. It can help you recall simple pleasures that you might have otherwise forgotten.

Morning Meditation

  • A morning meditation practice can also involve gratitude.
  • You can choose to meditate on things you’re grateful for, or you may find it easier to meditate on how you’ve gotten to where you are now.
  • To do this, remember the past, both good and bad. Reflect on how far you’ve come since then. This puts the present into context and allows you to clearly see it, helping you feel grateful for what brought you to this point.
  • The morning is often the best time to practice gratitude meditation, as it sets you up for the day with an optimistic outlook. It can also be beneficial to use your practice as a way to wind down before bed.


  • Prayer is another way to practice gratitude. Whatever you believe in, prayer can be a helpful tool for generating feelings of gratitude. It’s also been linked to positive health outcomes.
  • Expressing gratitude to a higher power or simply to the universe can be a profound way to evoke a sense of awe and appreciation. As you pray, you can express gratitude for the world you live in, the air you breathe, and the body that carries you from point A to point B.
  • Prayer is a chance to marvel at life and the miracle of existence. It doesn’t have to involve a particular belief or tradition, but can simply be a way of giving thanks for being alive.


  • Volunteering is a practical way to practise gratitude. Helping those in need can inspire you to reflect on your own circumstances and bring on a sense of compassion for humanity as a whole.

Apps that can help

Headspace: Mindful Meditation

Stress less. Sleep soundly. Get happy. Learn meditation and mindfulness in a few minutes a day with Headspace. Choose from hundreds of guided meditations on everything from stress and everyday anxiety management to sleep, personal growth, and mind-body health. Meditate anywhere, anytime — and start living a more calm, healthier, happier life.

Headspace: Mindful Meditation at the Apple app storeHeadspace: Mindful Meditation at the google play store

Insight Timer - Meditation App

The number 1 free meditation app. Guided meditations, sleep music tracks and talks led by the top meditation and mindfulness experts, neuroscientists, psychologists and teachers from Stanford, Harvard, the University of Oxford and more.

Insight Timer - Meditation App at the Apple app storeInsight Timer - Meditation App at the google play store