So what REALLY is the deal with gratitude? And how can it help stressed out parents?

gratitude for health

Unless you have been living under a rock of late, you will know that gratitude is everywhere – gratitude lists flood Pinterest, and it seems that you can barely enter a shop without finding a mug, coaster or candle with the word emblazoned on it.

I have to admit…all of this had rather put me off the notion of gratitude. After all, shouldn’t we be feeling gratitude on a daily basis, without some marketing man having to remind us by considerately placing it on a mug for us?

And it is for these reasons that, truth be told, I didn’t come to the gratitude party until of late, because until now, I didn’t understand why this had to be a “thing”, when really, it should just be part of our daily lives.

That is, until I watched a fantastic TED talk about the power of gratitude – or moreover, the Three Keys of Gratitude to Unlock Your Happiest Life by Jane Ransom.

This talk really blew me away.

Yes apparently there is a growing field of research when proves that gratitude isn’t just lip service, but that it can actually improve your mental and physical well-being and holy moly, it can even rewire your brain, and in some cases, turn your whole life around.

The research is outlined in Robert Emmons’ book Thanks!: How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier which basically shows that positive psychology (as opposed to fixating on illness and emotional issues) and focusing on health-enhancing behaviour and the the things we love in life can actually make us healthier in both the mind and body.

OK, now I’m listening.

So I thought, as an experiment, I would google “Gratitude Meditation”, and give one a bash. Namely this one here.

I spent eleven minutes doing it. Eleven minutes thinking about all the good things, people and events in my life. And the upshot? I literally felt like I was bursting with the most amazingly warm feeling from within at the end of it. I felt really REALLY good.

I mean just think how bad you feel thinking about all that is bad in your life and world for eleven minutes. You would feel pretty S***. This is the polar opposite.

Gratitude is apparently something that needs to be tended to on a daily basis. And for many of us time-starved parents, eleven minutes just sounds like ten minutes too many at the end of a long hard day.

So here’s the quick fix.

If you’re looking for something to ease the pains of the day other than a glass of wine then do this just before you nod off every night.

Close your eyes and think of (or say out loud if you’re feeling brave) three things that you have been grateful for that day. They can be as small and every day as you like. Like the cuddle your child gave you (before they unleashed all hell on you), or the fact that somebody helped you with the washing up (hey, dreams do come true!), or whatever. Just those three little thoughts of gratitude are enough to move your mind away from any negativity that was pushed on you that day, and will fortify you for the following day ahead. I promise. Have a go and see.

Do you “get” the gratitude thing? Do you possibly even practice gratitude already? I’d love to hear from you in a comment below….

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photo credit: Fred De Witt Van Amburgh Gratitude is a currency that we can mint for ourselves, and spend without fear of bankruptcy via photopin (license)


  1. I think our family already practices gratitude, for example J has just completed writing 12 thank you letters for his birthday presents… We are always grateful for everything that we are given/ have.

  2. I practice gratitude and it’s helped me through stressful situations. That moment when failure stares me in the face but I decide to be grateful for the small wins I’ve had on the project, really gets me grounded and energizes me to keep going. I don’t pay lip service to the power of gratitude. I know it works and I work it for results in my life.

  3. This is a very important concept. An attitude of gratitude can help refocus adults, and it’s a great attitude to model for our kids.

    Great post!

  4. Hey Tayla,

    It’s so interesting how powerful gratitude is. I toyed with keeping a gratitude journal but I fell behind, and at night I try to think of 3 things I’m grateful for before I go to bed, if I can remember. I forgot how good I feel after I do those things. I’d like to do it with my daughter before bedtime too, as I think it’s an excellent exercise. Thanks for the link to the TED talk, I will check that out!

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