You fall in the hallway and a kid you barely know rushes over to help. You come home after a long day to find your dad prepared your favorite meal. Just before lunch in social studies class, you learn about places where people don't have clean water or enough food.
What do these have in common? They're likely to make you feel gratitude.
Gratitude is one of many positive emotions. It's about focusing on what's good in our lives and being thankful for the things we have.
Gratitude is pausing to notice and appreciate the things that we often take for granted, like having a place to live, food, clean water, friends, family, even computer access. It's taking a moment to reflect on how fortunate we are when something good happens — whether it's a small thing or a big thing.
We can use lots of words to describe feelings of gratitude: We might say we feel thankful, lucky, fortunate, humbled, or blessed.
Gratitude doesn't just feel good. Making a habit of gratitude can also be good for us. Like other positive emotions, feeling grateful on a regular basis can have a big effect on our lives. Brain research shows that positive emotions are good for our bodies, minds, and brains.
When we make it a habit to feel grateful and appreciative, it increases our awareness of good things as they happen. That mindset of gratitude has positive effects on our mood.
Sometimes, feelings of gratitude happen spontaneously. But we also can create feelings of gratitude by deliberately counting our blessings.
You can build a habit of counting blessings just by paying attention each day to things you're glad to have in your life. Slow down and notice what's around you. For example: "Wow, the sky is beautiful today! What an incredible world we live in," or, "There's Sara! It was so nice of her to help me yesterday."
Noticing the things you're grateful for is just the first step in building a gratitude habit, but you can try other things too, like taking the time to thank people or pausing to appreciate a star-filled sky. Start now. What's good about this moment?
Reviewed by: D'Arcy Lyness, PhD
Date reviewed: November 2013
|VolunteerMatch VolunteerMatch is dedicated to putting you in touch with volunteer organizations in your area. You can enter the name of a group you'd like to know more about, search by your ZIP code, or browse all the available opportunities.|
|SERVEnet This site contains information on volunteering and community service opportunities.|
|Youth Venture Youth Venture helps young people develop their own opportunities for leadership through community service organizations, small business ventures, or after-school clubs.|
|Understanding Other People Being able to predict how other people might feel, act, or react is a skill that helps us build better relationships. These tips can help you develop the skill of understanding others.|
|Volunteering Volunteering gives you an opportunity to change lives, including your own. Get ideas on things you can do and tips on getting started in this article for teens.|
|Understanding Your Emotions Emotions help us relate to other people, know what we want, and make choices. Even "negative" emotions are useful. Find out how to understand emotions and use them effectively.|
|5 Ways to Be More Aware of Your Emotions Emotional awareness (knowing what we feel and why) helps us learn about ourselves and build good relationships. Here are 5 ways to get more in touch with your emotions.|
|What It Means to Be a Friend Thousands of you filled out our friendship survey. Find out what some of you said about being a good friend.|
|Optimism Optimists see the good in things -- and science has discovered that optimists can do better in life. The good news is, even pessimists can be more optimistic. Find out how.|
|3 Ways to Practice Gratitude Gratitude doesn't just feel good, it can be good for you. These 3 steps can help you start feeling more appreciative of the good things in your life.|
|Emotional Intelligence Just as IQ is a way of being academically smart, emotional intelligence (EQ) is a way of being people-smart. But unlike IQ, we can work on improving our EQ. Here are some tips.|
|Gratitude: A Worksheet Feeling grateful for what we have (instead of obsessing about what we don't) can help us get more out of life. This worksheet is designed to get you thinking about gratitude.|
What to expect when coming to Akron Children's
For healthcare providers and nurses
Residency & Fellowships, Medical Students, Nursing and Allied Health
For prospective employees and career-seekers
Our online community that provides inspirational stories and helpful information.