Cultivating an Attitude of Gratitude

By Extension Professor, Naomi Brower


Recent challenges have encouraged many of us to reflect on what we are most grateful for in life. Cultivating gratitude can lead to tremendous benefits, and not just during times of crisis. Some of these include: 

  • Improved relationships with others. Having an attitude of gratitude makes us more likable, more appreciative, enhances empathy, and reduces aggression. As a result, it can help us deepen our friendships, improve our marriages and family connections, and develop new positive relationships with others.
  • Improved mental and physical health. Gratitude helps us cope better with stress, increases self-esteem, and boosts our coping skills when challenges arise. It also boosts our immune system. Research has shown that gratitude can help individuals have more energy and more and better sleep quality. 
  • Career boost. Gratitude can lead to better decision making, people skills, and can help boost productivity and goal achievement.

Gratitude has some fantastic benefits! So how does one better cultivate this attitude of gratitude? Consider these four tips to increase gratitude.

  1. Keep a gratitude journal. Write down one or two things every day that you are grateful for. Get creative—searching for those small things like having warm water for a shower or a bed to sleep in can help to develop an attitude of gratitude. Reading through past entries can also provide a positive boost when needed.
  2. Share your appreciation. Let others know that you appreciate who they are or what they have done. How to best show appreciation will depend on the person (a written note, a small gift, quality time together, etc.). A sincere thank you is always appreciated.
  3. Look for the positive. How we interpret the situation can impact our future thoughts and feelings. For example, when facing a challenge, look for potential benefits such as increasing patience or empathy for others. Ask a friend or family member for help when it seems difficult to see any positives from a situation.
  4. Some people need a visual reminder to maintain mindfulness of gratitude. It may be helpful for those individuals to create a list of people or things that they may often take for granted and place it where they will see it regularly.

If you haven’t already, consider giving yourself the gift of gratitude during this challenging time. It is free, doesn’t take much time, and the benefits are enormous, long-lasting, and one of the simplest ways to improve life satisfaction.

Additional Resources