Five ways to practise gratitude every day

27 April 2023 dot 4-minute read
Mental health Feel Well Healthy Mind How to Practice gratitude
The practice of gratitude involves appreciating the good things in life. (Credit: Shutterstock)
In today's fast-paced world, taking a moment to practise gratitude can be a simple yet effective way to relieve stress and calm one's thoughts.
Gratitude is defined as the state of being grateful or thankful. It helps a person notice simple blessings, like having a conversation with an old friend or a kind gesture from a stranger. Fortunately, gratitude is like a muscle one can build with practice.

How to practise gratitude

Studies show that turning gratitude into a habit can have an affirmative impact on overall wellbeing. According to Dr Robert A. Emmons, a psychology professor at the University of California, gratitude comprises two essential components: appreciation and thankfulness.
By cultivating these components through daily practice, one experiences more profound joy and fulfilment in life. This results in greater emotional resilience and improved mental health.

1. Start a gratitude journal

The practice of gratitude involves appreciating the good things in life. (Credit: Shutterstock)
Writing in a gratitude journal regularly can initiate a positive outlook on life. Taking a few moments each day to reflect on moments of gratefulness, whether they come from ordinary events or people in your life, can cultivate a greater sense of appreciation and contentment.
Consider writing a letter to yourself, filled with words of self-appreciation and kindness. Reading these notes during challenging times can help maintain a positive mindset.

2. Express gratitude

Recognition for a job well done involves more than just monetary incentives such as a raise or other perks. A lack of credit, respect or other intrinsic rewards weakens the motivation to perform.

3. Meditate or pray

Regularly practising meditation helps a person develop a deeper sense of gratitude and mindfulness. One can live more fully in the present and connect with the world. This simple technique leads to a greater appreciation for everyday things that are often taken for granted, such as breathing.

4. Take a savouring walk

The idea of a savouring walk is to slow down and focus the attention on the sights, sounds and scents of nature. Research shows people who take "savouring walks" see a significant increase in happiness after one week.

5. Practise mindful eating

Eat slowly to relish your food. Chewing deliberately helps you pay attention the meal’s flavours or textures. Avoid distractions and focus on the body's hunger and fullness cues.
An increased awareness of eating habits fosters a more positive relationship with food and makes you grateful for what is on the plate.

The benefits of a life built on gratitude

Practising gratitude nourishes relationships. (Credit: Shutterstock)
Several scientific studies confirm the positive effects of gratitude, including its ability to shift the focus away from negative experiences to foster contentment. Expressing gratitude towards others can also strengthen relationships and cultivate social support. Yet, the benefits of gratitude extend far beyond these benefits.

1. Strong cardiovascular health

Research by Dr Wendy Mendes of the University of California shows gratitude correlates to blood levels and other risk factors for cardiovascular diseases. It also enhances sleep quality.

2. Better empathy

A study by researchers at the University of Southern California reveals that being grateful boosts a person’s ability to understand the mental state of others. It also shows enhanced activity in the region of the brain that deals with emotional processing, bonding, rewarding social interactions and moral judgment.

3. Improved mental health

A study in Psychotherapy Research involving 300 adults shows participants who write gratitude letters report significantly better mental health. It suggests that gratitude focuses a person's attention on more positive emotions. In addition, people who practice gratitude writing exhibit greater activity in the medial prefrontal cortex, which relates to learning and decision-making. These mechanisms may explain why gratitude has lasting positive effects on the brain.
People with a thankful attitude tend to have a more positive outlook on life. It also makes one more conscious and conscientious about what they have: friends, family, even healthy finances. Take care of these things by securing the future so that you can accomplish your goals without worry. AIA offers a wide range of savings plans that protects your hard work and makes you even more appreciative of what you have. It also helps you weather life’s uncertainties.
Practising gratitude takes work. But practice makes perfect. Doing it slowly and steadily will provide a lifetime of happiness.
Greater Good. 2010. Why Gratitude is Good. [online] [Accessed on 8 December 2022]
Greater Good. 2014. How Does Gratitude Affect Health and Aging? [online] [Accessed on 8 December 2022]
Greater Good. 2017. How Gratitude Changes You and Your Brain. [online] [Accessed on 8 December 2022]
Greater Good. 2015. What Does a Grateful Brain Look Like? [online] [Accessed on 8 December 2022]
Harvard Health Publishing. 2021. Giving Thanks Can Make You Happier. [online] [Accessed on 8 December 2022]
Forbes. 2018. Five Science-Backed Ways to Practice Gratitude Every Day [online] [Accessed on 8 December 2022]
Greater Good. 2022. Savoring Walk. [online] [Accessed on 8 December 2022]
Harvard Health Publishing. 2011. Mindful Eating. [online] [Accessed on 8 December 2022]

This is general information only and is not intended as financial, medical, health, nutritional or other advice. You should obtain professional advice from a financial adviser, or medical or health practitioner in relation to your own personal circumstances.

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