This post is a collaboration with my friend Dan McKinnon. Dan holds a Ph.D. in Education, a Master’s in Counselling, and is a registered psychologist. He was the primary founder of CCMF Alberta and is a significant contributor to the lives of men and their families today.

Gratitude Can Change Your Life

Most people view gratitude as a polite expression of appreciation for help, a gift, or any other type of benefit. However, psychological research finds that an overall “attitude of gratitude” can significantly positively affect your life.

The benefits of a grateful attitude are proven and far-reaching for our mental and physical health. Gratitude impacts not only our lives but can be immensely impactful for our loved ones (and others).


The Benefits

  • Increased optimism: People who practice gratitude, whether on a spiritual or social plane, are more likely to have a positive outlook on life. They are more likely to focus on positive things rather than negative ones. Optimistic people are generally happier and more satisfied with their lives than those who continually focus on the negative or overlook things to be grateful about. Optimistic people are more resilient when facing stressful or painful situations.


  • Better mental and physical health: Grateful people are typically healthier, both mentally and physically. Because gratitude leads to calmness, peace, and overall well-being, people who are grateful are less likely to be depressed or anxious than their ungrateful counterparts. Science has shown that grateful people are also less likely to experience the physical maladies associated with anxiety and depression or physical issues like high blood pressure.


  • Enhanced relationships: Gratitude benefits not only those who are expressing thanks but those who are also on the receiving end. Gratitude is a positive reinforcer that encourages people to continue helping others. It’s self-evident parenting that if you want your children to continue positive behaviours, notice and validate the behaviour. It’s the same for everyone – people who feel that their efforts are appreciated in any setting, whether at home or work, are more likely to repeat these positive behaviours. Relationships improve because the person you are thanking feels validated and appreciated instead of resentful for being overlooked.


Practicing Gratitude in Your Daily Life

Now that you know a few benefits of practicing gratitude, you can work towards implementing gratitude in your life. Some easy ways to be more grateful include:

  • Say thank you: It sounds simple, and it’s something most people were taught from the time they were little, but simply thanking people seems less common now. Look for situations to thank people, and then do it. It could be anything from thanking a stranger for holding a door open for you to thanking your spouse for making dinner. A thank you is even more powerful if you add some personal validation. For example, “Thank you, you are a thoughtful person,” or “Thank you, your talent is amazing.”


  • Start a gratitude journal: This is especially helpful if you are feeling discouraged. Write a list of all the things you are grateful for, then make it a point to add to the list at least once a week, working up to every day. This will start you on a path of noticing reasons to be grateful, which will, in turn, show you the joy and meaning in your life. Don’t overlook the simple things we often take for granted, like your tap that provides beautiful hot and cold water, a heated home in winter, and abundant food.


  • Adopt a different perspective: You are more likely to be grateful for the actions of others when you see them from their viewpoint. For example, let’s say your friend did you a favour. This may seem quite normal for a friendship. But when you really examine the steps required of your friend and the time and energy they are gifting you with the favour, you will naturally be drawn towards gratitude. This perspective will help you be grateful for the everyday kindness and little deeds of others.

    Even when facing adversity, gratefulness can be a great ally. For example, losing your job can be very challenging, but being grateful you still have your health, a home, and a family can help you maintain perspective and be consoled with the ways you are blessed. This can be reframed as well. My elderly Mom has several maladies of aging that cause her pain and grief. Nevertheless, she inspires me by saying, “I’m grateful for what I don’t have.”


  • Go treasure hunting: Dr. Daniel Amen, the brilliant American psychiatrist who pioneered brain scanning, has a wonderful gratitude strategy he calls treasure hunting. Before falling asleep at night, he replays in his mind all the wonderful things he encountered in his day. These treasures can be any positive moments, including small things like a big smile from the barista at your coffee shop or finding that great parking spot when you are in a hurry. I have adopted this practice, and I absolutely love it. Treasure hunting is fun and sets you up for a calm sleep and sweeter dreams.


Practicing gratitude is enormously powerful. It not only changes your own life by positively impacting your overall mental and physical health, but it will also greatly benefit those around you.


Who and what are you grateful for right now? Start a list!

What gratefulness or gratitude habit can you start today?

How can you personally improve the positive flow of gratitude energy around you?

With loving kindness,

Coach Billy