“Gratitude, gladness, and related feelings like appreciation are easy to dismiss, but studies in fact show that cultivating them has lasting and important benefits, including lifting your mood, increasing satisfaction with life, and building resilience.”[1]

– Rick Hanson, Ph.D.


Gratitude is having a thankful appreciation for what we have and receive in our lives. This includes acknowledging the good things, people, and places that we find ourselves. Gratitude encompasses both tangible and intangible things. In other words, we may find gratitude in our favorite dwelling, book, or food item as well as feeling gratitude for having a warm shelter, the ability to read or the pleasures of cooking.


In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.[2]

Ways to Cultivate Gratitude

Scientists believe that we have a built in “negativity bias” that has kept humans alive from an evolutionary perspective. Simply put, it was more important to remember where the “lion’s den” was than to remember where the “bush with the tastiest fruit was.” As Rick Hanson states[3], “the brain is like Velcro for negative experiences, but Teflon for positive ones. This shades “implicit memory” – your underlying expectations, beliefs, action strategies, and mood – in an increasingly negative direction.” The good news is that when we focus on the positive, it takes less than 30 seconds for that positive experience to settle into our neural structures. In other words, to restructure the brain and combat the negativity bias!

Rather than focussing on what we don’t have or lack in our lives, gratitude allows us to appreciate the things that we do have. This allows us to refocus our attention to appreciate the things and people that we are currently connected to. Over time, practicing gratitude allows us to rewire our brain for more positive emotions. Some examples are writing thank you notes, reading positive affirmations, noticing moments of joy or gratitude, and pausing to fully “take it in”, or practicing a Loving Kindness Meditation[4].

Journal Activity

The following are some prompts that may help us in recording our daily gratitude:

  • What am I grateful for today?
  • What was my favorite part of the day?
  • Name something that you’re grateful to have.
  • What is one thing that I got done today?
  • Where is my favorite place to relax?

Resources Activity

The following questions rely on our senses to help ground us and bring us peace or calm:

  • Things I see that help calm me or bring me joy are:
  • Things I hear that help calm me or bring me joy are:
  • Things I imagine or think about that help bring me joy are:
  • Places that I go that help calm me or bring me joy are:
  • Places I imagine or think about that help bring me joy are:
  • Things I touch or hold that help calm me or bring me joy are:
  • Smells that help bring me calm or bring me joy are:
  • Foods that I eat that help bring me joy are:
  • Activities I do that help calm me or bring me joy are:

We need different resources for different situations and experiences and what works for one person may not work for the next.  If there were parts that were difficult to fill out, pay attention to these areas in the future. For example, notice if something that you smell is pleasant or reminds you of a positive experience.  This will help us cultivate our awareness of the resources available to us.

[1] Retrieved from

[2] Retrieved from

[3] Retrieved from