What is Gratitude? Why is it important? Gratitude is one of the most positive emotions you can feel. Being grateful is about expressing how thankful you are for the things you have and focusing on the good things in your life. This is a practice that can help us across our year, not just at Thanksgiving! When we practice gratitude it causes us to pause and be thankful for the simple things we sometimes take for granted such as; shelter, food, family, friends, and school. Here are (3) reasons why gratitude is important:
- It improves your mental health. If you’re feeling sad or worried, practicing gratitude can be the boost you need.
- Makes social bonds stronger. When you make the people around you feel appreciated, it brings you closer together.
- Builds resilience – the ability to recover quickly when something difficult happens, which is important to help us get through tough times.
Steps to Gratitude
Teenagers and adolescents are usually facing lots of changes which can make you feel like you’re on an emotional roller coaster. Practicing gratitude is a way to invite more positive emotions, reminding us that while it may be a tough time, there is still lots of good around us everyday, lifting our mood even during tough times. Gratitude also teaches kindness and appreciation for people, places and things.
Some examples are; writing a thank you note to your teacher for giving you extra help, sharing with your parents how thankful you are for the things they do, or slipping a note to a friend telling them why you’re grateful for their friendship. You can also practice gratitude on your own by writing down things you appreciate in a journal. Simply pointing out things you are grateful for to yourself can help remind you to look at who is in your support system and the things that are going well (even if these are small things!). There are (3) major steps to help you practice gratitude.
- Examine Gratitude: This first step means that we have to look for the good things happening around us. This may be events, people that are kind, the sunny weather, the great lunch you had, a favorite smell of yours, etc. There are no requirements for what gratitude has to be – you get to define it for yourself!
- Embrace Gratitude: Secondly, we must pause and take it all in . Ask yourself how you feel about having the people and things you need in your life. Focus your thoughts on how your friend told a funny joke or the smell of snow is peaceful in the morning.
- Express Gratitude: The last step is to say it out loud and/or write down the things you’re grateful for; you can do it everyday or whenever you get a chance. Identifying those things to yourself increases your gratitude, but also remember that telling others how they impact you or pointing out a small thing you are grateful for to someone else might help them get that positive mood boost too! Remember, saying thank you is more than just good manners and it goes a long way to help others.
Tools to Help Practice Gratitude
There are so many ways we can practice gratitude in a way that helps us reflect and look back on when we are having a bad day. Two simple and fun ways are keeping a gratitude journal and creating a gratitude jar. These methods are super fun and remind us to show our appreciation each day. The best part is that you can share them with family and friends. Feel free to use these worksheets to help you along the way.
- The Gratitude Journal How fun is it to pick out a new journal or notebook just for your gratitude. Remember, like all new skills practice makes perfect. Practice writing at least one sentence of gratitude in your journal each day. Don’t know what to write? Use this worksheet to help you with your ideas and feelings. Gratitude Journal Worksheet
- The Gratitude Jar A gratitude jar is really cool because you can drop little pieces of paper in it each day or week about the things you’re feeling thankful for. When you’re having a bad day you can dig in your jar and read something that you’re thankful for to put a smile on your face. If you don’t have any old jars lying around you can use this worksheet to fill up your gratitude jar. Gratitude Jar Worksheet
Now that you know the importance of gratitude and all the positive ways it can help you and those around you, challenge yourself to be a little more grateful every day. You will see the people in your life start to feel more appreciated and you begin to feel happier. Try out some of the practices with friends and family, there are so many ways to be grateful together.