How to be Grateful

What is gratitude? According to Robert Emmons, the definition of Gratitude is affirming the goodness in one's life and recognizing that its source lies outside the self, such as with the good intentions of another person.

This is a pretty positive way to think!

Research from positive psychology shows that being grateful helps to decrease depression. However most of us don't know how to be be grateful. I have written some pages with good mental health tips to teach you how to cultivate this practice.

If you want to learn how to be grateful, the first step is to measure your current level of gratitude. Take this gratitude survey from Martin Seligman's book Authentic Happiness. 

 After filling it out you can practice strategies shared on this website and see how you improve your score.

The Gratitude Survey  Using the scale below as a guide, write a number beside each statement to indicate how much you agree with it.  1 = Strongly disagree 2 = Disagree 3 = Slightly disagree 4 = Neutral 5 = Slightly agree 6 = Agree 7 = Strongly agree  

  • 1. I have so much in life to be thankful for.
  • 2. If I had to list everything that I felt grateful for, it would be a very long list.
  •  3. When I look at the world, I don’t see much to be grateful for. 
  • _4. I am grateful to a wide variety of people. 
  • 5. As I get older, I find myself more able to appreciate the people, events, and situations that have been part of my life history.
  • _6. Long amounts of time can go by before I feel grateful to something or someone. 
  •  **Scoring Instructions *

*1. Add up your scores for items 1, 2, 4, and 5. 

2. Reverse your scores for items 3 and 6. That is, if you scored a “7,” give your- self a “1,” if you scored a “6,” give yourself a “2,” etc. 

3. Add the reversed scores for items 3 and 6 to the total from

Step 1. This is your total GQ-6 score. This number should be between 6 and 42. 

If you scored 35 or below, then you are in the bottom one-fourth of the sample in terms of gratitude. If you scored between 36 and 38, you are in the bottom one- half of people who took the survey. If you scored between 39 and 41, you are in the top one-fourth, and if you scored 42, you are in the top one-eighth. Women score slightly higher than men, and older people score higher than younger people

After you've completed this survey, learn about the health benefits of gratitude.

Then learn some research based interventions from the positive psychology field that will help you build the gratitude muscle. Gratitude journaling, gratitude visits, and gratitude letters are a few of the easiest and most effective.

Good Mental Health Tip HOW TO BE GRATEFUL

Gratitude isn't just a feeling but something you cultivate, it's a disposition that can help shield you against depression.

Gratitude is about remembering the things that you have in your life that are good and remembering the good that has been offered to you.

Depression, on the other hand,  strips you of your ability to see the good in life. It causes you to forget what happiness is, that the universe can be open and kind, and that there are people who support and assist you. Gratitude works as an antidote to depression.

Most of us are not naturally grateful. Sometimes, we might be,  if a tragedy or crisis reminds  us of what we have. We can be prompted to feel grateful temporarily, but we soon forget that feeling and return to where we were before. If this describes you, don't worry, you are just like most of us!

It's very difficult to remember to pay attention to what is right in our lives. Instead,  we automatically pay attention to what is wrong. This is residual from the days when we needed to constantly scan our environment for danger. It's not an adaptive trait any longer, but it sticks around. We call this our negative bias. Thankfully, because of neuroplasticity, we can change our brain.


If you are doing it right, gratitude feels good. 

Please remember not to use gratitude to shame or harm yourself. Gratitude isn't something you use to say to yourself I should be grateful. It's something that helps you feel warm and happy inside. If when you attempt to practice it you feel guilty or shame you are doing it wrong.

  • Gratitude poems can help inspire you.
  • Click here for gratitude poems
  • Click here for quotes about gratitude!


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Medical information obtained from this website is not intended as a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you have a problem, you should consult a healthcare provider.