Gratitude is the feeling of being grateful or thankful. People who are grateful, and show it often, tend to be more optimistic and happy in life. They feel better about themselves and they sleep better. They also tend to have stronger relationships with friends and relatives.
Grateful people may even enjoy better physical health. That’s because people who often show gratitude are more likely to exercise more often. They’re also less likely to need to see a doctor.
How gratitude works
It’s possible to build a more positive outlook. The key is to focus on what’s good in your life. That can help improve your attitude — and reduce negative thoughts and feelings. Showing and voicing gratitude helps you confirm all that’s good in your life. You’ll also be able to see where the goodness comes from. It may help you to keep perspective and better handle stressful situations and difficult times.
Gratitude helps you and also those you share it with. You and they will both see your value as a person. Everyone will get a boost from your positive words and thoughts. And that makes you want to do it more — time and time again.
Make gratitude a habit
If you practice being grateful, it’ll soon become a regular part of your life. Here are some tips to help you get started:
- Keep a journal. Write down what you’re thankful for. It’ll help keep you thinking about the good things your life. That can help keep stress and problems in perspective. It also gives you a log of good memories to revisit and enjoy again.
- Send a thank-you letter. Who are you thankful for? Take the time to write to someone and tell them. If you can, deliver the letter in person. Thanking people who make a difference in your life can give you a “happiness boost.” It’ll give them a boost, too.
- Focus on the positive. When good things happen, take time to think about them. Give yourself the time to enjoy happy emotions and experiences. And give yourself permission to fully enjoy your success.
- Make a mental note. Each day, think about the good things in your life. Picture them in your mind and take a mental snapshot. This can help you strengthen good memories.
- Share the joy. Make sharing what you’re grateful for a regular part of your daily routine. For example, take time during family dinners or outings with friends to share three things you’re thankful for.
Gratitude can help you build positive feelings right away — and that last. A positive outlook may help you handle hard times better. You’ll likely bounce back sooner, too.
- Helpguide.org. Cultivating happiness: Five tips to get more satisfaction and joy out of life. Accessed: May 12, 2017.
- American Psychological Association. A grateful heart is a healthier heart. Accessed: May 12, 2017.
- American Psychological Association. Mindfulness holds promise for treating depression. Accessed: May 12, 2017.
The information provided is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be medical advice or a substitute for professional health care. You should consult an appropriate health care professional for your specific needs.