Download our Gratitude factsheet

What does gratitude mean?

The word ‘gratitude’ comes from the Latin word gratus, meaning pleasing or thankful.
It is simply a feeling of thankfulness:

  • Gratitude could be directed towards someone or something specific, who has done something good for us, perhaps given us a gift; or
  • It could also be be a warm feeling towards the world, or a sense of spirituality towards everything in life

Why is it important for us to have gratitude in our lives?

1. Gratitude can improve relationships.

Not only does saying “thank you” show good manners, it will draw people to your kindness, and individuals of a similar generous nature will gravitate towards you.

2. Gratitude improves physical health.

Research shows that being thankful can reduce your physical aches and pains. This also could be because generally those who feel happier are more likely to take better care of themselves.

3. Gratitude improves mental health.

Research also shows that there is a link between gratitude and wellbeing. It shows that gratitude increases happiness and reduces depression and stress.

4. Gratitude enhances empathy and reduces aggression.

A study carried out showed that those who showed gratitude were less likely to retaliate and had the ability to show empathy and support to others.

5. Grateful people sleep better.

Spend just 15 minutes jotting down a few grateful sentiments before bed, and you may sleep better and longer.

6. Gratitude improves self-esteem.

It can prevent you comparing yourself to others and being overwhelmed by resentment towards others who appear to have more than you. Gratitude helps you appreciate others’ achievements and builds on your own self-worth.

7. Gratitude increases mental strength.

It has been proven by research that gratitude can improve our resilience, by helping us be thankful for what we have, even in the toughest of times.

Improving gratitude in our lives.

Here are some ideas of how we can improve gratitude:

  1. Keeping a journal of things that go well is proven to improve happiness and health. A study found that those who focused on their gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives, and also had better physical health in comparison to those who focused on the negative parts of their lives.
  2. Write thank you notes, emails or text messages, to help lift your own happiness and keep your relationships secure. You can even do this in the workplace, where it can help with motivation.
  3. Give a mental ‘thank you’. Sometimes you may want to say thank you to someone even when you can’t physically, for example the driver that let you out on the road.
  4. Making a mental ‘thank you’ helps you focus on other positive things in your life that you may have not noticed. Mindfulness, meditation, being grateful for the present moment.
  5. Start a gratitude jar to pay it forward – donate money to help others, this can be a penny a week that you have gathered over time.

We all have the ability and opportunity to show gratitude. It can just take a few moments to focus on what you have and be grateful for this.

If you know someone who may benefit from one-to-one intervention in relation to drugs, alcohol or mental health you can refer them to our Communities in Transition project.