Gratitude Resource Guide

Messages encouraging people to express gratitude are prevalent at Thanksgiving, with some joining in a tradition of sharing what they are grateful for while gathering over the holiday. Gratitude is a sense of appreciation of what an individual has, for the goodness that is in their lives both within and outside oneself. Gratefulness is often a reflection of an emotional response from an occurrence that made a difference in your life. It turns out there are benefits to regularly acknowledging gratitude. A growing body of research has found an association between gratitude and more positive emotions, improved sleep, decreased stress, decreased physical pain, decreased depression, increased sense of well-being, and strengthened interpersonal relationships. Gratitude can include memories of the past, current circumstances, or a hopeful, optimistic outlook about the future. It is not limited to acknowledging major life events, but also in recognizing and appreciating the small things in our lives, like how good a new pair of running shoes feels, that first cup of morning coffee, or noticing a striking sunset. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has given some individuals a perspective of focusing more on what they value and/or brings them happiness. These individuals may have a sense of gratitude for their health, having a job, or having their family and/or friends. For others, their experiences may have resulted in reduced feelings of gratitude. Individuals who are grieving the loss of a relationship, job, home, or loved one are likely struggling with feelings of gratitude. Individuals who continue to experience daily inequalities and injustice may find it difficult to remain grateful. It is important to note that gratitude does not erase injustice, loss, or pain, however, it can change our perspective and give us hope. 

You can read more about gratitude from these resources:

Why gratitude is good?

Gratitude can help you: 

  • Cope with stress and foster resilience 
  • Build stronger interpersonal relationships 
  • Sleep better 
  • Improve your physical and psychological health 
  • Be more empathetic and patient 
  • Improve self-care and self-esteem 

Additional resources that explain “Why gratitude is good”: 

 

Ways to include gratitude in your life:

  • Questions to help consider what you’re grateful for in your own life: 
  • What aspects of your city or neighborhood are you grateful for? 
  • What have others done in your life that you’re grateful for? 
  • Who is someone that really listens when you talk, and how does that affect you? 
  • What’s a stressor you’re grateful to have put behind you this year? 
  • How many of your basic needs do you not have to worry about meeting today? 
  • What’s the best thing about your home, and have you taken the time to enjoy it recently? 
  • Have you had a chance to help someone recently, and how did that make you feel? 
  • What’s something you look forward to in the future? 
  • What’s something enjoyable you get to experience every day that you’ve come to take for granted? 
  • What’s a hard lesson that you were grateful to learn? 
  • What about today has been better than yesterday? 
  • What’s an aspect of your physical health that you feel grateful for? 
  • What happened today/yesterday/this week/this month/this year that you’re grateful for? 
  • What’s an aspect of your personality that you’re grateful for? 
  • How have you used your talents recently, and what have you enjoyed about doing that? 
  • What relationships are you grateful for? 
  • What’s one thoughtful thing someone did for you recently? 
  • What’s an aspect of how you were parented for which you feel grateful? 
  • What’s one thing you’ve enjoyed about doing your job recently? 
  • What made you laugh or smile today? 

    • Quick thank you note ideas:
      • Send a note through interoffice mail. 
      • Send an email. 
      • Send a note to their supervisor letting them know you are grateful for this individual’s contribution.  
    • Websites with options for free e-cards (also include paid options, so just be sure to check the free options): 
    • Gratitude letter – Write a letter of gratitude to someone who has impacted or influenced your life:  
    • It can be beneficial even if you don’t mail the letter or share your thoughts  
      • When something good happens or you feel thankful, write it down and put it in the jar. The next time you are feeling unhappy, shake the jar and pick out a slip of paper. This will help to remind you of something good in your life.   
        • Include a specific word/mantra reflecting your gratitude  
        • Focus on something in the here and now, such as warmth of the sunshine, a cool breeze, a pleasant sound 
          • It may be difficult to find something to be grateful for, however, sometimes putting yourself in someone else’s shoes, checking for silver linings, and savoring good moments may help to inspire gratitude.  

            How to become a gratitude leader:

            Gratitude within the workplace or an organization can help to: 

            • Reduce stress and other health complaints 
            • Improve productivity 
            • Create more positive emotions 
            • Improve work/group satisfaction  
            • Improve social relationships 

            Efforts to make individuals feel valued and included creates significant rewards in terms of performance, productivity and satisfaction.  Overall, everyone wants to feel seen, heard and appreciated.  

            For more information: 

            Ways to include gratitude in your department/college/organization:

            • This can be in a shared physical office space, or it can be done virtually through shared communications, like Teams.
            • Provide a time where individuals can practice, receive, and share gratitude during team meetings.
            • This is an opportunity for individuals to share who they appreciate and why.
            • Choose a date for your Thnx4 group challenge to begin 
            • Decide upon a Thnx4 group challenge length, either 10-Day Intensive or 21-Day for your organization members 
            • Determine whether you would like to embed a custom organizational logo into the emails for your Thnx4 Group Challenge 
            • Then send the details above to thnx4@berkeley.edu with Group Challenge Request as the Subject Line 
            • More information can be found here: https://nurseschallenge.thnx4.org/about 
            • As a leader it is important that you work to infuse gratitude in your life. Use the information above for examples of how to infuse gratitude into your life.  

            How gratitude is expressed in culturally different ways:

            We do not all express gratitude the same way. Our culture and background can shape how we show gratitude.    

            Due to cultural differences in how gratitude is expressed, it may also be important to learn an individual’s “appreciation language” (like one’s love language). Some people may prefer words of affirmation (public praise) or quality time. Others may prefer acts of service or tangible gifts. Dr. Gary Chapman and Dr. Paul White by written a book that outlines 5 languages of appreciation that include: 

            • Words of Affirmation
            • Quality Time
            • Acts of Service 
            • Tangible Gifts  
            • Physical Touch  

            In the work setting, understanding one’s language of appreciation has been shown to improve job satisfaction.  However, it helps in other settings of to improve communication and connections with classmates, colleagues, friends, and family.   

            Additional Resources to learn about cultural differences that gratitude is expressed: 

            There is not a single specific way to experience or express gratitude. Choose what is meaningful and feels right for you. Do not force the process – acknowledge what you truly feel grateful for, not what you “should” feel grateful for. It may feel awkward at first if this has not been something you do regularly, but it will become more comfortable with practice.

            There is no correct frequency for practicing gratitude. Some people choose a daily practice, while others may choose weekly. It may take several weeks to experience the ongoing benefits associated with practicing gratitude, but there are immediate benefits that can be experienced. In addition to feelings of well-being, other emotions can also be triggered such as embarrassment, feeling indebted, or feeling guilty.

            Practicing gratitude does not make feelings of pain or loss, for example, go away. While available research suggests many potential benefits from practicing gratitude, there is also evidence that it is not an effective practice for everyone, and the research is lacking on how it may affect people with depression, anxiety, or suicidal thoughts. Practicing gratitude is easy to do and is not time consuming. It may contribute to feeling more grounded and hopeful by recognizing the positive aspects that are present in one’s life. 

             

            References and additional resources:  

            1. Gratitude Tips revised_120320.pdf (uiowa.edu) 
            2. How we can continue to feel gratitude during COVID-19 
            3. Greater Good Magazine. “How Gratitude Changes You and Your Brain.” Joshua Brown, Joel Wong. Greatergood.berkeley.edu. June 6, 2017. How Gratitude Changes You and Your Brain (berkeley.edu) 
            4. Healthbeat. “Giving Thanks can Make You Happier.” Harvard Health Publishing. Giving thanks can make you happier - Harvard Health 
            5. Psychology Today. “Positive Psychology.” Christopher Peterson. May 16, 2008. What Is Positive Psychology, and What Is It Not? | Psychology Today 
            6. 20 Thought-Provoking Gratitude Questions | Benefits of Gratitude (7summitpathways.com), Accessed 7.15.2021 
            7. USC News. “Practicing Gratitude can have Profound Health Benefits, USC Experts Say.” Eric Lindberg, November 25, 2019. Research from USC experts shows link between gratitude and health 
            8. Full article: Positive psychology in a pandemic: buffering, bolstering, and building mental health (tandfonline.com) 
            9. GGSC-JTF_White_Paper-Gratitude-FINAL.pdf (berkeley.edu) 
            10. Six Habits of Highly Grateful People (berkeley.edu) 
            11. Gratitude Part 3: Health benefits 
            12. The Benefits of Gratitude and How to Get Started (healthline.com) 

            NOTE: The information included on this page was adapted from reference one.