• Yvette E. McDonald, LCSW

Why Gratitude Can Help you Be Happier

Updated: Apr 7


We all know that it is polite to say “thank you” and show appreciation to others. But, did you

know that the daily practice of gratitude can actually help you to be happier? This might seem silly at first to focus on gratitude. You may even feel like you got this thankful thing down. But do you? Research has shown many positive outcomes to increasing your gratitude in big and little things along your journey.




So much of the time we focus on the negative things in our lives. We feel like a victim even if the

bad only took up a small portion of the day. For example, you ripped your shirt on the way to

work, which made you late, and then your boss had to give you the “talk”. All before 10 a.m.


What about the rest of the day?


You still have a job, the sun was shining, you are healthy…there is always something to be thankful for. You just have to identify it. When we focus on being grateful, our brains shift from the negative to the positive. It forces us to change gears in our thinking, making us feel better overall. A gratitude journal can be a helpful resource in this process.


What is a gratitude journal?

Every day you can write down 3 things, that you are grateful for. It can be the smallest victory or the biggest challenge you have overcome. It doesn’t have to be earth-shattering. Studies show that a gratitude journal helps to build positive thinking skills and increase happiness overall. Just remember it's a process that builds over time.


How does a gratitude journal work?

  • Find a notebook that is just for your gratitude journal.

  • Then pick a daily time and place to record your thoughts.

  • Think simple or deep, the choice is yours.

  • Even if it feels silly at first, give it a try!


Science agrees. Gratitude can make a real difference in our lives. Here are just SOME of the benefits you can gain from the habit of gratitude.

  1. Better relationship skills: Saying “thank you,” or “I greatly appreciate it” to others not only makes the other person feel good, but it can also open the doors to forming new relationships. People who are appreciative and work to recognize the efforts of others come across as kind, respectful individuals. It is why after a job interview, it is recommended to send a thank you note.

  2. Less physical pain and discomfort: Making gratitude a habit can give you a greater appreciation for your health, your body, and your life as a whole. People who practice gratitude have fewer aches and pains and take better care of themselves.

  3. Greater feelings of happiness: Negative emotions like envy, frustration, and regret can be reduced the more we practice gratitude.

  4. More optimistic: People who can find the silver lining in the challenges they have faced are happier and experience less depressive symptoms.

  5. Allows for greater relaxation: If you feel good about who you are, and aren’t spending so much time thinking about the bad things in your life, you are going to feel better.

  6. Improved quality of sleep: Shifting the focus to the good in your life can help you to sleep better and have greater self-confidence.

  7. Reduces feelings of jealousy and envy towards others: Gratitude also increases empathy and reduces aggression. A University of Kentucky study showed that people who reported higher feelings of gratitude were less likely to retaliate against others, even in unfortunate circumstances, and were more likely to be sensitive to those around them.

  8. Better ability to bounce back for challenges: The powerful shift in the way you think about things when you change your mindset from that of a victim mentality to being grateful, a habit that fosters resilience. Studies have even shown it reduces symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and helps trauma victims to heal.


The facts are there. Making gratitude part of your daily practice can help you to lead a happier

life. Be patient with yourself however as the habit does create itself overnight. It takes time and practice to change your mindset. The more you practice the better you will be at noticing even more that you are grateful for.


It is all about perspective.



Let's Practice!

  1. Make a quick list of at least 3 things that you are thankful for today.

  2. How do you think being grateful more often can help improve your life?

Let's Start!

  • Find a notebook or journal to use

  • Choose a time to write

  • Choose a place to writ



The therapists at Traveling Light Counseling specialize in helping clients achieve personal happiness.


We welcome the chance to discuss an individualized plan to meet your needs. Contact us at

772.361.8448 to learn more.

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We are here to help you gain perspective, insight and clarity for a lighter tomorrow

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​© 2015 by Yvette E. McDonald, LCSW.

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