Understanding Gratitude

Gratitude is a positive emotion that occurs when you understand and acknowledge that the positive experiences you have in life, small or large, are not owed to you but are gifts. It is the opposite of taking things for granted. The experience of this emotion on a regular basis has been shown to have very positive effects on enthusiasm, energy, and wellbeing. Because of the positive benefits of gratitude on health and happiness, it is important to regularly practice gratitude to increase your resilience.

Research has shown that the positive effects of gratitude are multiplied as you increase: the strength of your feeling of gratitude, how often you experience gratitude at any given time, how many life circumstances you feel grateful for and the number of people in your life to whom you feel grateful.

Developing Gratitude There are a number of exercises that can increase your sense of gratitude in each of these areas. They take just a few minutes a day and can have a life-changing effect.

  • Begin each day with a two-minute gratitude session. Find a quiet space of two minutes and bring to mind the things and people in your life you are grateful for. Remind yourself that they are gifts, because none of this is owed to you.
  • Create a short prayer or affirmation concerning the gifts you have received. Use this on a daily basis to remind yourself that even though you have worked and planned for what you have, life could have turned out differently.
  • Use a daily gratitude journal. The key to doing this is to never repeat an entry. Each new entry has to be different. You will find that this helps you to begin to pay attention to many of the small gifts that come into your life.
  • If you have children in your life, make it a practice to discuss gratitude on a daily basis. Help them to create and use their own gratitude journal. Doing this is a wonderful teaching tool as you help your children to develop resilience.
  • Focus on the fact that gratitude can turn difficulties into gifts. Try using this perspective each time you are faced with a challenge in life.


If you are having trouble finding gratitude, call BHS at 800-245-1150. Your Care Coordinator will speak with you about your benefits and options for support. BHS provides referrals to qualified counselors, psychologists and psychiatrists that can help you manage your emotions and develop a coping plan. BHS is the parent company of Safety First.