Gratitude – the benefits and how to build it into your daily life.

By Alexa Reinecke, LPC, NCC

Thanksgiving is a common time to “give thanks” and reflect on what we are grateful for from the year.  Research shows that making this a more consistent habit not only shifts our mindsets, but the way we treat others.

A study from Boyes (2021), shows that practicing gratitude leads to more empathy, compassion, and social connectedness.  This is explained as a ripple effect, that “the more thankful you are, the more likely you are to act pro-socially towards others, causing others to feel grateful” (Boyes, 2021, p. 66).  Since the focus is on connecting with positive experience, gratitude has also been shown to create more resilience during difficult times.  It fosters optimism and inspiration.

In fact, research shows that the best time to practice gratitude, is on the days you feel the least like it.  It can “broaden your focus rather than having tunnel vision of the hard stuff” (Boyes, 2012, p. 66).  It helps you keep everything in perspective.

The table below summarizes the variety of benefits from practicing gratitude, as outlined by Boyes (2021). 

Benefits of Practicing Gratitude

(According to Multiple Research Studies)

  • Builds a stronger immune system
  • Less bothered by aches and pains
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Exercise more and take better care of health
  • Sleep longer and feel more refreshed upon waking
  • Higher levels of positive emotions
  • Feel more alert, alive and awake
  • Experience more joy and pleasure
  • Experience more optimism and happiness
  • Tend to be more helpful, generous and compassionate
  • More forgiving
  • More outgoing
  • Feel less lonely and isolated

So, if gratitude is so important, then how do we practice it?  Here are some of the ways you can build gratitude into your life:

  • keep a daily gratitude journal or list:
    • what good things happened today/what went well
    • what are 3 blessings you can count
    • what is around you currently that you can appreciate?
      • (Put these on a post-it note and stick it somewhere you can see it)
  • write a gratitude letter/thank you note (this can be just for you and not something you have to give to the recipient, although research shows sharing it has an even bigger impact)

    TIPS: Start small! Practicing gratitude may feel forced at first, but it will start to feel more natural the more you do it.  You’ll start to notice more and more things as you train your mind. 




    Boyes, T. (2021). The last word: the art and science of gratitude: increasing happiness and wellbeing one positive thought at a time. Teachers Matter, 49, 66-67. 

    If you or a loved one are struggling to practice gratitude contact Owens at (847)-854-4333 for a free 15-minute consultation or to get scheduled!