Embrace Gratitude

One of the most effective (and often quickest) ways to shift the way you feel, lift your mood and enhance your emotional well-being is to practise gratitude. Gratitude along with meeting your emotional needs provides the foundations upon which a fulfilling and meaningful life is built.


One of the many fascinating discoveries to emerge from the field of positive psychology – the study of how human beings flourish – is that the regular and deliberate practice of gratitude can bring about significant relief from stress and significant improvements in happiness, motivation, optimism, energy levels, sleep and quality of life. It is also a powerful antidote to ‘negative emotions’ and depression, as well as the foundation upon which a fulfilling life is created. In my own work as a medical doctor specialising in mental and emotional health I have found that it is as important to practise cultivating positive emotional states, such as gratitude, as it is to deal with anger, grief and mental illness


One of the best definitions of gratitude is by the world’s leading gratitude researcher, Robert Emmons, who describes gratitude as the ‘felt sense of wonder, thankfulness and appreciation for life’. Summarising the findings from the studies to date, Emmons says that those who practise grateful thinking ‘reap emotional, physical and interpersonal benefits’. People who regularly keep a gratitude journal report fewer illness symptoms, feel better about their lives as a whole and are more optimistic about the future. If you would like to increase the level of gratitude in your life, here are six suggestions for getting started:


The Gratitude Ritual


The following is a 5 minute ritual that I highly recommend you do every morning for seven mornings. I am yet to come across anything that so quickly and consistently shifts my clients into a happier, more fulfilling place than this exercise. This is the exercise that I also use most mornings.


Read through the following instructions once, and then try it out yourself. Whilst it can be done in your head, for the best results you should write parts 1, 2 and 3 out on a piece of paper or preferably in a journal.


  1. Today is a new day. The past is past and today I choose to take actions that will support my personal growth and move me more fully into my potential as a human being.


  1. Today I open myself to guidance, to happiness and new ways of bringing joy to myself and others.


  1. I am truly grateful for ……

(write in at least three things that you are grateful for)





  1. Now taking into account your gifts, strengths and values (which you will discover in the remainder of this section), close your eyes and create a mental picture of what a fulfilling and meaningful life would look like for you. Experience yourself living this life in first person as though it is happening now. Take time to see what this new life looks like? How would you be spending your time? Who would you be surrounded by? How would you be as a person? Don’t worry about seeing it clearly if its not, getting a sense of it will be enough.


  1. Now keeping your eyes closed turn your attention to what you are now feeling. Allow yourself to welcome it and feel it fully for ten seconds or so


  1. Eyes still closed, imagine that you this new life was really happening and focus on the gratitude that you have because this is so. Allow those feelings of gratitude to arise in you and as they do feel them fully. Enjoy the feelings you are now experiencing and when ready move on with your day.


Keep a Gratitude Journal


Write in a journal some of the things you have to be grateful for. This can be anything from the beauty of the sky outside to the joy of your children – whatever works for you. Some people really enjoy doing this every day, others once a week – you will have to find out for yourself what suits you. I get my clients to start by writing down two things for which they are grateful and three things that they appreciate about themselves. For example:


Today, I am grateful for…


  1. The aliveness that I’m feeling in my body, as it provides me with the inspiration and energy to do my work
  2. The fingers I have as they allow me to type this message


Today I appreciate…


  1. The loving respect with which I greeted my daughter this morning
  2. The friendly manner with which I spoke to Susan on the phone


Write a Gratitude Letter


Research by Martin Seligman, the founder of positive psychology, has shown this one to be particularly effective. Write a heartfelt letter to someone who you value and go and see them in person and deliver the letter.


Savour the Moment


How often do you stop and in that moment notice the beauty of what you are seeing or experiencing. Taking time to savour and be grateful for the moment enriches your experience and enhances your positive emotions.


Start Your Day with Gratitude


Early on in your day, preferably when you wake up, take a couple of minutes to focus on everything that you are grateful for. You might choose to be grateful for your health, for having a partner or family, to other things like just being alive, or the sun coming up. Either way, focus on the feelings of gratitude in and around your heart and allow those feelings to get stronger. Now set your intention for the day, something that affirms your commitment to your happiness and emotional well-being. Keep it brief, heart-felt and positively stated as though it is already true. For example ‘I am truly fulfilled’ ‘I am happy and at peace’ allow yourself to feel the resonance of these words in your body and when ready, move on with you day. If you can’t feel these words expand and lift your energy use EmoTrance (module three) to process the discomfort or heaviness that you are feeling. I use this exercise myself as it is a powerful way to set the ‘tone’ for the day and to renew my own commitment to emotional well-being. It works exceptionally well and I encourage you to try it.


Have a Gratitude Partner


Having a partner who is also committed to supporting and encouraging you in your emotional health journey can provide invaluable support and motivation. Talk to someone about your commitment to gratitude and see if they would be willing to practise gratitude with you. You might, for example, exchange gratitude lists or share gratitudes over the phone or in person. According to Robert Emmons, ‘If we hang out with ungrateful people, we will “catch” one set of emotions; if we choose to associate with more grateful individuals, the influence will be in another direction. Find a grateful person and spend more time with him or her.’


now move onto identify your inner/outer gifts

LinkedIn Facebook
To contact us call +44 20 3239 4118
or e-mail us at info@academyofhumanpotential.org