Why gratitude is the ultimate life hack

And three ways to start practicing it - at work and at home.

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A previous boss used to start our Friday plan of the day meetings the same way each week – with every person around the room saying the best thing that happened to them that week.

It was an insight into what was important in the lives of people we spent so much time with (whether accomplishment, family, or a sports team), and however sh*tty the week had been, a reflection that there was some good to it.

It was team building, and it was energizing.

What we were doing of course was practicing gratitude. And, by the way, this was not some collection of hipster millennials – this was a construction team of trades people, engineers, planners, and management with anywhere up to 40 years in the industry.

Studies show a wide range of physical and psychological benefits of gratitude. It boosts happiness, reduces stress, improves sleep, it’s even been linked to feeling less pain, stronger immune systems, experience healthier relationships, and academic and professional performance. 

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. 

Melody Beattie

Practicing gratitude shifts your attention away from comparison, envy, and other negative emotions to appreciation – meaning you think on the good rather than ruminate on the bad, a delicious mental health boost.

Naturally then, grateful people experience happier and healthier relationships, as they’re looking for what’s right rather than what’s wrong.

And that’s not all, once you cultivate an attitude of gratitude, it opens you up – mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually (if you’re into that) to even more blessings, joy, and abundance. If you’re looking for good, you find it. Where attention goes, energy flows.

Best of all, it’s free!

Here’s three ways to start practicing gratitude right now.

Three ways to practice gratitude now.

TIP: If doing any of these, the ultimate up-level is to breathe fully and let yourself experience what gratitude feels like in your body. This means you’re feeling the feels physically, rather than just going through the motions mentally, and helps set the practice into habit.

1. Start an on-the-go gratitude list
Start a gratitude list on your phone and use it to record little moments you’re thankful for each day.  It could be a snip of a nice text message from a friend, a photo of a beautiful garden you come across, a quote you are reminded of during the day, or just a note to yourself about something you felt or experienced. Text, photos, screenshots, you do you!

2. Write down three things you’re grateful for every night
A quick, easy, and prosperous way to journal at night is to simple write down three things you’re grateful for that day. If you share your bed with an SO, you could (and should!) share your three things with each other. Sharing gratitude = more gratitude!

3. Incorporate gratitude into your interactions
Speaking of sharing. There’s many simple ways that aren’t totally hippy woo-woo to incorporate gratitude into family dinners, friend hangs, or even work meetings. We go around the table at thanksgiving saying what we’re grateful for, what stopping us doing that any time we’re at a table? With friends you could open up your next phone call with the question “what are you grateful for right now?”.

Taking a nod from my previous boss, I start my Friday standups in the same way – with one great thing that happened to everyone that week. Even at this stressful and uncertain time it helps shift our focus from the bad or lacking and ground us in the all the good we do have.

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