Skip to content

The Benefits of Gratitude

Whilst away on holiday last week in the glorious weather, I enjoyed, and spent a good amount of time writing.  It was too hot to go out and about, so I made use of the rest, but also the space I had to write.  I took a week off from my blog and focused on my book completely.  After alI,I was on holiday, but wanted to maintain my writing.


The space I had for writing was sitting out in nature, obviously in the shade.  I would have looked like a lobster otherwise!  It was most enjoyable, and in fact highlighted and reminded me once again of the beauty we have around us.  It reminded me of how I used to really connect into nature as a focus of gratitude back in 2010.  It helped me through that tough time tremendously.

I had been working on various chapters of my book, placing memories in appropriate places. This reminded me of ‘Gratitude’ and how I used it back then.  How powerful it was.  How good it was for both my mental health and physical well-being.

Materialistic or Inner self

Now, most people will say ‘Yes, I’m really grateful for what I have in my life’, and most people are. But are they focusing mainly on material things and aspects they have, or what surrounds them?  That’s great!  We all require material things to make our life more comfortable whilst we are here in physical form, but do they focus on what they have inwardly? What does gratitude create within us? Inside of us?

Gratitude and the Brain

Gratitude activates parts of our brain called the hypothalamus.  It wires and fires parts of what we call our brain’s reward pathways.  That positive emotion we feel when receiving something special.  It can activate the brain stem to produce our brain’s pleasure chemical ‘Dopamine’.  It boosts our serotonin levels which in turn creates the pleasure response. When we feel thankful or appreciative it creates a positive emotion within us, creating many health benefits both mental and physical.  When we are in a place of gratitude we respond with feelings of happiness, generosity and kindness. 

What does gratitude teach us?

Life goes well for us most of the time, but life can throw curveballs at us at any point, and it usually does.  It’s how we learn to deal with these curveballs that’s important.  How do we approach a difficult situation? Do we get drawn in, or do we take a step back first before we respond?  Practising gratitude is something we can utilise to help get us through. Things don’t always go the way we want them to.  

What gratitude does, is teaches us no matter what is thrown at us, no matter what we go through, something good will come out of it.  It directs us to look and think about options we would not have even considered before. It drives us to foster what we are grateful for, what we do have.  

It can even create a new direction in life, as it did so for me.  Faced with the adversity of death in 2010 I found gratitude refocused me to enjoy every single minute of my life.  I made the decision to enjoy what I had left, whether it was going to be months or years.  It was life changing for me at that point.  It moves you into experiencing more positive emotions. Plus remembering that we only have NOW.  So, it’s wise to use it in a way that will benefit us rather than deplete us of energy and cause stress, and why not! 

How does gratitude feel within us?

Gratitude is often described as a warmth flowing through you.  You feel a feeling of warmth and contentment.  Just like any other responses, feelings appear within the body associated with an emotion.  The emotion of gratitude produces many responses.  Along with the feeling of warmth, your breath slows down allowing a space to appear within your chest area, giving you space to breathe.  I used to experience a feeling of being grounded, like it was logging me back in, realigning my body.  You may find a smile appears, but you could also find you are experiencing tears rolling down your face.  These are all normal responses to gratitude.  

A response I tend to receive from a gratitude emotion is closing my eyes.  Is this because I use nature as a direct gratitude focus? I would say most people when sitting out in nature spend moments with their eyes closed to have their own space. There is a strong urge to close my eyes, which can easily be the introduction of a meditation.  Gratitude to me is almost like a mini meditation.  It’s checking in with YOU.  Obviously there are different aspects and you may find you experience different responses, it’s good to be aware of these.  Take note whilst you experience a feeling of gratitude.  The more you become aware of it the stronger you will connect into it. 

What are the benefits of Gratitude?

Here are some benefits below that you could experience from using gratitude daily.  When you make it part of your routine it becomes a natural process and response.  Imagine what you could benefit from practising this wonderful feeling and emotion. Make it your trait, and create a new habit where you naturally express this state of being.

  • Makes us happier
  • Being present in the moment
  • Provides room for perspective
  • Regulates our emotions
  • Reduces stress and anxiety
  • Improves our heart health
  • Reduces loneliness
  • Improves our relationships
  • Better sleep
  • Better energy
  • Protect against burnout
  • Boosts our self-esteem
  • Increases mental strength
  • Increases our resilience
  • Deal with the face of adversity
  • Grow from trauma
  • Reduce symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Improves physical health
  • Improves Psychological health
  • Boost motivation and performance

The list goes on… 

Recognising … Acknowledging … Appreciating

It’s really important to recognise what we are grateful for.  Obviously, we first must become aware of what we are grateful for in our own life. Shifting our focus to what is good.  Remember, we can choose a thought in any moment, so when we place focus on what’s working for us our mind allows us to redirect our thoughts to that.  Rather than focusing on what we don’t have, appreciate what we do have in our life. This could be as basic as nature as mentioned earlier, everyone has access to nature, that is something we can all utilise.  This is what I used so much to create a change in focus. 

Once you are aware and recognised what you are grateful for acknowledge the Gratitude.  Because we have become aware of the gratitude, we then start to respond differently to situations around us.  We start to acknowledge the good feeling within us, which in turn flows from us as our appreciation to others or things around us. For example, relationships become strengthened because we are acknowledging kindness, it’s a two-way response. This is not just specific to relationships with people, it’s regarding relationships with different things in all areas of our life.  We can apply it to anything. 

The power of appreciating Gratitude is powerful. Give thanks for what you are grateful for.  After all every single part of it is very special, no matter how simple.  It could be in the form of an action, a response, or even just for the fact that you are grateful. Value the essence of gratitude.  There is always something to be grateful for, even if it is just feeling grateful for reading these words on the screen as you are right now. 

Start each day with a grateful heart

So, if we want to continue and foster a place of gratitude, how can we do this? What things can we put in place to enable us to practise this and create a good habit?  

The fact that you are focused that way will bring you more to be grateful for in the first instance, because that’s your focus. You get what you focus on!  You will start to notice more to be grateful for around you. Practise makes perfect. You start your day with brushing your teeth, so why not start your day with a grateful heart! Make it a natural habit. Start it whilst brushing your teeth, that will get you off to a good start. It will be your reminder where to place your focus then you are off and running with it!

Journaling and Gratitude Jar

An excellent and fun way is to start a gratitude journal.  Write three things you are grateful for at the beginning or end of each day.  What experiences occurred through your day that made you feel grateful? You could even create a gratitude jar where you write one sentence each day on a slip and then place it in the jar.  Then when in times of trouble, worry, stress or concerns you can dip into your jar for some positive guidance and refocus yourself. Sometimes all we require is a gentle push to refocus.  Simple but powerful.

Client responses

Whilst working with clients I bring in a tremendous amount of gratitude, and get them to work with it. It’s really important to me. Being on the the other side of therapy and using the benefits of gratitude myself is something I share. If it helped me it can help anyone!  

Like the list above it has many benefits.  I find it especially lifts people from a place of depression and low mood.  When we take things back to basics such as connecting with nature, a space is made to allow a shift to take place and create a new perspective.  Simple things always work best, it takes less effort, is easy to do and allows them to be in the moment which can be built on over time. 

So … What are YOU grateful for right NOW?

#gratitude #benefitsofgratitude #grateful #feelings #emotions