Gratitude and Wellbeing 

May 16, 2024

There are so many scientific studies that show us how feeling gratitude is good for our mental health and wellbeing. But when life is full of difficulties, maintaining feelings of gratitude can be genuinely quite difficult. 

But remember, feeling gratitude is not about dismissing your other feelings, or accepting injustice. It is about noticing and giving your attention to the things in your life that inspire positive feelings. 

Gratitude can help us feel acceptance with our situation. By focusing on what we have, rather than what we don’t have, or wish we had, we can stop ourselves from getting swept up in longing or regret. 

Gratitude is a life skill 

Science shows that being grateful actually makes us happier. In the long-term it can shape our life decisions, relationships, physical health, and mental wellbeing – it really life-changing. And the good news is – it’s free and anyone can access it! 

We all know how to be grateful instinctively – but it is a skill, and like all skills, we can practice to get even better. 

Think about how some people are always complaining about something. While other people are always hopeful and optimistic. Both types of people experience the same ups and downs, but they have developed different habits when it comes to what they consider worth most of their focus and attention. 

It is not wrong or ungrateful to feel sad, anger, worried, or any other emotion. 

If you’re going through a difficult time you don’t have to force yourself to ignore your feelings because ‘other people have it worse.’ Being grateful just means being able to appreciate and enjoy your blessings, regardless of your situation, even if you are going through many other difficult emotions at the same time. 


While gratitude can help when you’re going through a tough time, it is important to get the support you need from others and not to suffer in silence. 

Find what works for you 

Some people like to make special time in their day to focus on feelings of gratitude. Many people like to do this through prayer, while others enjoy gratitude meditations, journaling or some other ritual that offers them a peaceful few moments to reflect and feel good. Not everything will feel right for everyone, and that’s ok. (Remember, it’s not just about thinking about gratitude or why we should be grateful, but genuinely feeling the feeling!) 

No matter what you are going through – finding ways to meaningfully and sincerely increase your gratitude practice will have a positive effect on your feelings of peace and contentment. So it’s definitely worth investing a little time and research into what works for you. 


Three Keys of Gratitude to Unlock Your Happiest Life

The gratitude experiment 

How gratitude changes your brain

The healing power of gratitude: change your brain 


Gratitude and mental health  

Guide to dhikr and meditation 

Solving the gratitude equation: Qur’an 14:7


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Emma Seppälä, PhD, is a faculty member at the Yale School of Management, faculty director of the Yale School of Management’s Women’s Leadership Program and bestselling author of SOVEREIGN (2024) and The Happiness Track (2017). She is also science director of Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education. Follow her work at, or on Instagram.


Nicole K. McNichols Ph.D. is an Associate Teaching Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Washington where she teaches courses about sex and relationship science in addition to industrial and organizational psychology. Follow her work at and on Instagram.