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Gratitude has become a bit of a buzz word over recent years.

We hear all the time how important it is to have an “attitude of gratitude” in order to live a fullfiling and happy life. But how true is that? Is there any science behind it?

Well, I would argue that it is true, and yes there is science to back it up for anyone who thinks this concept is a little too out there for them. 

What is gratitude?

Well, put simply, it is just being thankful for what you have, being grateful for your life and everything and everyone in it.

It’s so easy to drift through life and stop noticing all the things that are really wonderful in your life. We are all guilty of it. We take things, places and people for granted and just expect them to always be there. When we practice gratitude we make an effort to notice and to write down all those things we are thankful for, but also to let those people know that we are grateful for them, that we appreciate them. 

 How can you practice gratitude?

Well, there are lots of ways to practice gratitude. My favourite is to have a gratitude journal. I keep mine by my bed. Every night you write down all the things you are grateful for. Some people suggest you write three things, but I think most days that is too easy and doesn’t exercise your gratitude muscle enough, I would say to aim for between 5 and 15 a day. The more you write down everything you are grateful for, the more reasons you will find to be grateful. 

Of course you don’t need to write it down, you can just think it or say it to yourself. I find that writing it down helps to keep me accountable though because I can see if I missed a day or two. 

Some people prefer to use a jar and every time something wonderful happens to them they write it on a slip of paper and pop it in the jar, then take things out to read either when they need a lift, or at the end of the year.

Something as simple as saying thank you to someone, maybe sending them a little card, is all part of practicing gratitude though.


What’s the science though?

Well, the sience is pretty conclusive actually. You see we know now that our brains are constantly forming new pathways and changing how we go about things based on our habits and routines. 

Evolution taught us to pay more attention to dangerous and scary things, because we needed to survive. As a result, we tend to notice and remember all the bad things that happen much more easily than we do the good things. It makes sense. Those of us who survived to tell the tale were the ones that remembered that if you ate that berry you died, or that you mustn’t get too close to bears. However, now most of the things that cause us stress are far less life threatening.


When we have a job interview, or we’re worrying about how we’re going to pay the bills going into fight or flight mode and committing that feeling to memory isn’t going to keep us safe. It is going to keep us trapped in fear and negativity. 

When we begin to make an effort to focus on the positives in life though our brain begins to reprogramme itself. We begin to notice more of the positive and magical things in life and everything feels happier.


Something as simple as writing down 5-10 things that you are grateful for every day could actually begin to make you feel happier and more satisfied with your life. Don’t get me wrong, I know that times are hard for many people at the moment. Harder than I can remember in my life time. So many people are worried about the cost of living and whether they can afford to put the heating on this winter. I’m not suggesting for a minute that writing down the things you are grateful for will make all those issues disappear completely. But if for example, you are reading this, then you have a phone or other smart device which allows you to read it. If you are worrying about heating your home, then you have a roof over your head. I know it isn’t always easy, but trying to see the bright side, may not remove the issues, but it may make them feel more manageable and when you are feeling more positive, you are better able to find solutions because you begin to relax. 

Do you have a gratitude practice? Do you believe gratitude is helpful for supporting your mental health? 


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