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Practising daily gratitude will boost your happiness

There is a lot to be said of living this international life. For one, you get to share and are exposed to different cultures and perhaps adopt some of their popular holidays. Thanksgiving is one such cultural exchange and is a day of gratitude in the United States, where people give thanks. So why limit being grateful to just one day?

Photographs: iStock

Text: Lyndsay Jensen

Being thankful develops a positive mindset, primarily when we practice it every day. Thus, we grow in the direction of what we regularly focus on — daily gratitude improves your well-being dramatically.

Science thinks you should be grateful

Sadly, bad memories are easier to remember, where negative experiences are more vivid than positive ones. Rewiring our brain takes time. You have to train your brain to acknowledge positive events and make it a habit of creating good memories.

Science suggests that regular and deliberate recording of one's blessings improves our mental and physical health. But what does it take to get there?

Appreciation is the joy of seeing the good in something or someone - this mental state boosts our happiness and motivation. However, it requires not taking everything for granted - it's about discovering the value in what you already have.

Gratitude connects you to something greater than yourself - it's experiencing life as a surprise gift. There's always something new to discover and be thankful for. You have to keep your mind open - make room for the good memories, not the bad ones.

Gratitude is the quality of being thankful and being ready to show appreciation for and return kindness. It's essential to focus on building a habit - enjoy the practice without expecting anything in return.

Developing a gratitude habit

Gratitude is more than saying thank you. It's about acknowledging the value of your experiences - thankfulness requires genuine appreciation. It also involves a complex interplay between the giver and receiver - appreciation will help you see more opportunities. If you thank someone for something meaningless, they will perceive your gratitude as an obligation. If you are appreciative just to look good - the world will see you as not being genuine.

Being appreciative starts with you. Most people are unhappy because they can't acknowledge their own goodness. Keeping a gratitude journal is an increasingly popular practice - it helps you create the time and space for focusing on what went well. Your life is full of things to be grateful for, no matter how small. So start paying attention – you'll be surprised once you begin your journey.

"Gratitude is more than saying thank you. It's about acknowledging the value of your experiences — thankfulness requires genuine appreciation."

How to begin a gratitude journal

We spend our lives looking for that one perfect moment — a gratitude journal will help you see happiness in real ones. Here is how to start:

Get ready

One hour before you go to bed, unplug yourself from TV, social media, emails, news, etc. The light of screens reduces melatonin production, and it confuses your body which can jeopardise your sleep.

Sit down in a comfortable position and take 2–3 deep breaths. Feel how the air flows through your body. Reconnect with your body. Take deeper breaths and relax.

Put your worries to one side

Think about what's worrying you or making you anxious? Write it down, and visualise how your worries can move from your head to the paper.

Identify the good memories of the day

Revisit your entire day and recollect all good moments, no matter how small. Write down everything that you should feel grateful for about life, others, and yourself. The purpose is to finish your day celebrating good things instead of complaining about what went wrong. Be specific. Capture the experience, not just the fact. As human beings, we find it easier to remember and connect with stories.

Reflect and move on

A gratitude journal is habit-forming and forces us to recognise the best in us and the life around us. By affirming past and present strengths, successes, and potentials, we acknowledge the positive in life. Once you have captured all the good news, reflect on the day, and write one sentence to summarise your day using this format: "Today was great because…".


At first, you might find it hard to remember the 'good things.' That's okay - the process takes time as we are wired to remember the bad things. However, in time, your brain will become better and better at creating positive memories.

Thankfulness is more than celebrating a delicious dinner with your family. It requires taking the time to pause and reflect. Feeling grateful and happy is something to celebrate every day, not just once a year.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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