Understanding How Gratitude Benefits and Empowers Us

How to Tap into Gratitude to Light Your Path Forward

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Maybe you’ve heard that scientific studies* show that gratitude benefits us in so many ways?

Give thanks and your sleep gets better, your social life improves, you’ll increase productivity, and get healthier.

Acknowledging the things that support your happiness and well-being enhances your life in a multitude of ways. Gratitude benefits us and those around us.

How can you best do this?

  • Write down a few gratitudes in a daily journal when you first get up or before you go to sleep. I have observed that logging 3 gratitudes in a bedside notebook at night before turning out the light can help with feeling calmer, more secure, and improving sleep.
  • Make an effort to tell at least one person per day something you appreciate about them. You will likely be rewarded with a smile (or heart emoji!). As a result, you will feel a boost from the gratitude and you will probably make their day. Expressing gratitude benefits you and others.
  • Say your own form of grace. By joyfully acknowledging the good things in our lives, we give them more power and build our internal resources. To clarify, grace can be done in the style of a particular religion. On the other hand, it can also be done in a very personal way by noting the things that truly matter to you.

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I’ve found a new approach to connect with gratitude that seems to lift people up and light their path forward.

Step 1: Think of three people (or animals!) who you love and for whom you feel grateful.

Step 2: Come up with a couple of reasons for why you appreciate them or what you appreciate about them.

Step 3: Ask yourself this, “If I were to ask those same people what they appreciate about me, what might they say and why?”

Step 4: Notice any similarities in the why’s. Do any of the core valuesrepeat in terms of those reasons for the appreciation?

Step 5: You’ve just uncovered some of the cornerstones of what makes you grateful! Now, moving forward, focus on the things, people and situations that support those qualities because those things make you feel good and connected!

To illustrate the point, let me give you an example. I worked through this exercise with a friend. She came up with three people and realized that she valued them because they made her feel heard, all are kind, and all come up with creative solutions when she seeks their advice.

Then, I asked what they might say about her. Interestingly, she thought they’d be grateful for the same things in her.

After going through this process, my friend reported feeling more empowered by understanding whyshe appreciates what she appreciates. Consequently, this helped explain some of her choices and relationships. She says it also lights the way for future steps in terms of where she puts her energy and who and what she focuses on because now she will give attention to things that embody those values. And then she will acknowledge those things with gratitudes!

In other words, noticing the foundation of your gratitude benefits you in the present and in the future.


McCullough, M.E., Emmons, R. A., & Tsang, J. (2002).The Grateful Disposition: A Conceptual and Empirical Topography. J of Personality and Social Psychology, 82, 112-127. 

Sheldon, K. M & Lyubomirsky, S. (2006).How to increase and sustain positive emotion: The effects of expressing gratitude and visualizing best possible selves. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 1, 73 – 82.

Wood, A. M., Froh, J. J., & Geraghty, A. W. A. (2010).Gratitude and well-being: A review and theoretical integration. Clinical Psychology Review, 30, 890 – 905.

This blog has previously appeared in on November 27, 2019

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