Do you know anyone who starts or ends their day by writing down things that they were grateful for? It seems that they are onto something. 

Research shows that when we express and accept gratitude our brain releases dopamine and serotonin neurotransmitters responsible for our emotions and this helps us ‘feel good.’ It isn’t a surprise that gratitude is strongly associated with greater happiness.

The definition of gratitude is defined in many ways, but it is generally that joyous feeling of appreciation or thanks. The practice of gratitude is an effective way of retraining your brain to focus on the right things, resulting in seeing more good, appreciating more, and finding more enjoyment in life. A growing body of research suggests that the practice of gratitude is associated with numerous benefits for individuals’ physical and mental health. Some benefits are: (1) lessens anxiety or depressive symptoms; (2) increases social connection; (3) improves physical health; and (4) increases overall happiness. Click here to watch this brief video summarising the benefits of gratitude.

So how can you cultivate gratitude in your life? Below are some proven exercises that are beneficial for children, teens and adults. If you are interested in learning more about different activities to build gratitude, please click here.

  1. Journaling. Grab a pen and a journal to write down a few things you are grateful for. This simple exercise will positively benefit your overall well-being.
  2. Family Gratitude Jar. Write one thing that you are thankful for on a piece of paper and put it in the jar. 
  3. Gratitude Rock. The rock is a symbol to remind yourself why you are grateful. Put that rock in your pocket, backpack or desk. Whenever you see it or touch it, pause to reflect on why you are thankful. This action will remind you about what you are grateful for and help you get out of your head and focus on the present moment.
  4. Gratitude Box. This makes a nice gift for your loved ones. You can write down gratitude messages to your loved ones on a piece of paper that you put into the box. Wrap it up and give it to them!