Why Should I Be Grateful?

Fall leaves in the background with a magnifying glass in the center.  Inside the magnifying glass "why does gratitude make you happier?" written.

Why should I be grateful? Gratitude is actually proven to increase happiness! We are all searching for more happiness.  Looking at the exciting world of people on social media and TV shows, we often feel less happy with our own mundane lives. Their life appears so much more exciting and better than our own.  Many of us think that if at least some of our big dreams become a reality, then we will finally reach that ever fleeting feeling of happiness.  However, happiness is all around us, we just need to see it. Finding happiness starts with us looking around, finding it in small everyday moments, and feeling grateful. 

This week is Canadian Thanksgiving, a holiday centred around delicious food, time with family, and most of all: gratitude.  But why does gratitude make you happy?

Take a look at this chart with some of the benefits of gratitude.  

Light yellow background with small graphics, such as puzzle pieces, gears, and triangles.  In the centre, "being grateful" is written with 8 branches extending from it.  Surrounding "being grateful" "increased happiness, better sleep, feel less tired, less materialistic, higher life satisfaction, helps develop patience, improves relationships, decreased risk of burnout." is written.

There is also scientific proof that gratitude leads to happiness.  According to brainbalancecenters.com, when you feel gratitude, “it lights up parts of the brain’s reward pathways”.  Through this process, the brain produces serotonin (a happiness neurotransmitter) and dopamine (a happiness chemical).  So why does gratitude make you happy? To sum things up, finding small things that make you happy and grateful increases the chemicals that make you feel happy in the brain, leading to you physically feeling happier! 

Two teens standing next to each, from left to right: a teen girl with long black hair, wearing a black patterned dress, cracking an egg.  On the right, a taller girl with mid-length black hair, wearing blue denim jeans and grey t-shirt.  They are both baking on the kitchen counter, with an iPad containing a recipe photo in front of them.
Credit: moneyprodigy.com

Our Gratitude Guide:

 How can we actually be more grateful, leading us to be happier? 

Write down or mentally list 3 things you’re grateful for: Do this daily, in the morning, while eating breakfast, brushing your teeth, or before you go to sleep.  Writing it down on paper does produce better results and helps you remember, so if you can, write them down. 

Thank someone: Make it a goal to say “thank you” at least twice a day.  Once before lunch, and once later in the day.  This can be as simple as “thanks for holding the door open”, or “thanks for making dinner.” 

Go around the table:  A fun thing to do is to go around the table: during breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and have each family member say one thing that they are grateful for today.

Look at the flip side: When something bad happens, try to see the silver lining.  For example, if you get a bad mark on a test, instead of dwelling on it,  think about what you know, don’t know, or need to study.  Remember that one mark doesn’t define you as a student, and is unlikely to be really important in five years.

Finding gratitude is simple to do, and comes with countless benefits, including happiness.  Being grateful helps us stay in the present moment, because we’re searching for those small moments that we enjoy and relish.  Make it your goal to find things you’re grateful for everyday, not just at Thanksgiving. 

We hope that you find something to be grateful for today, and that it gives you a small bit of happiness. 


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