Hello and welcome back to week #12 of Keystone’s weekly wellness blogs!

This week, we returned from March Break, which for some of us, maybe a lot of us, is a difficult thought to manage after two weeks of relaxation and minimal responsibility – I get it!

However, I thought I’d dedicate this week’s blog to something that is easy to practice, and can help us manage the extra workload when we’re back in school-mode.

Today’s topic is gratitude and I have some questions for you:

  • When was the last time you felt grateful for something?
  • What was it?
  • Why did you feel grateful?
  • How did you express your gratitude?

This blog post is going to sound a little bit different than what you might have heard about gratitude, which may have sounded like a “be grateful for what you have, and finish your (insert non-appealing food here).” In the midst of a chaotic day, week, semester or year, practicing gratitude is one of the simplest tools we can use to brighten up our mood. I’ll explain what gratitude means, some of the science behind it, and how we can use it in our everyday lives. Let’s get into it…

What actually is gratitude?

Gratitude is more than just eating the rest of your brussel sprouts because you’re grateful for what you have (although, it is important, eat your veggies!). Gratitude is simply recognizing and appreciating the good things in our lives, whether big or small. It’s about taking a moment to acknowledge the positive aspects of the experiences, relationships, and circumstances you find yourself in, rather than focusing only on what’s missing or going wrong. Gratitude involves feeling thankful and expressing that appreciation, whether internally or outwardly to others. It’s like taking a pause to say “thank you” to life for all the good stuff it brings our way, whether it’s a sunny day, a good friend, or a yummy meal.

Different cultures show gratitude in many different ways and practices. For example, in Japan gestures like bowing or gift-giving are a token of appreciation and respect. Many Chinese people use the phrase “謝天,” or “xiè tiān,” which directly translates to “thank sky” as a way to express gratitude to all things under the sky. In Taiwanese, people say “感心,” or “kám-sim,” which means “feel heart,” to express gratitude. Despite all the different phrases and gestures different cultures say or use, the point is that the underlying meaning of gratitude – the recognition and appreciation of kindness, generosity, and blessings – crosses cultural boundaries, and is a universal language of appreciation and connection!

The Science Behind Gratitude

I, of course, have to let you know the science and research behind how good gratitude is for us!

Many studies have been done that proved the benefits of practicing gratitude. Researchers like Dr. Robert A. Emmons, Dr. Michael E. McCullough, and Dr. Martin E.P. Seligman has found that being thankful can make a big difference in how we feel. In one study, people who wrote about things they were grateful for felt happier and healthier compared to those who focused on what annoyed them. Another study showed that writing a thank-you letter boosted happiness more than anything else they tried. While these studies can’t say for sure that gratitude causes all these good feelings, they strongly suggest that being grateful can make us feel better overall (and who wouldn’t want to give that a try for a potential boost of happiness?!).

Ways to implement gratitude in your day-to-day life:

Start Small

Each day, take a moment to acknowledge a few things that bring you joy, or that you’re appreciative of. It can be the smallest things, like the smell of breakfast cooking in the morning, or a kind interaction with a friend or stranger. By practicing your gratitude in the small moments, you’ll gradually train your brain to appreciate the goodness in your life, no matter how seemingly insignificant it may be. As you practice, you’ll find yourself to be more in-tune with the good things (big and small) that are happening around you.

Write a Thank You Letter

Writing a letter of gratitude is a powerful way to enhance your own happiness, as well as spreading joy to others! Whether it be a written note, email or text message, expressing a genuine appreciation for someone’s positive impact on your life can uplift you both. Make it a goal to write one letter a month, and don’t forget to occasionally write one to yourself too! Recognize your own strengths, accomplishments and sources of happiness so you receive a boost to your self-esteem and well-being. If you’re too busy to write a thank-you note, just take a moment to think about someone who’s been nice to you and silently thank them. It’s a simple way to show appreciation and feel grateful.

Reflect (Positively) on Challenges

Take a few moments to pause and reflect on the challenges you faced today. Instead of focusing only on the difficulties or annoyances, try to find something positive within each frustration. Maybe a challenge helped you learn something new, develop a new skill, or boost your resilience! By shifting your perspective and focusing on the silver linings in these challenges, you can build a mindset of growth and positivity.

Acts of Kindness

When a stranger delivers a random act of kindness to us, it can change our entire day, so do that same thing for others! Show gratitude through your actions by performing small acts of kindness for others, with the key thing to note being expecting nothing in return. These acts could include lending a helping hand to a classmate, offering your seat to someone on your commute, or doing a favour for a friend without being asked. By taking these simple, but thoughtful actions, you not only express your gratitude but you’re also creating a more positive and caring environment around you!


This may not be the right fit for everyone, but for religious individuals using prayer as a way to feel grateful is a helpful tool. Taking time to pray helps you think about the kindness you’ve experienced and feel more connected to your faith. Whether you follow formal prayers or simply talking to your higher power, praying can help you feel more grateful and in-tune with your spiritual connection(s).

Gratitude Journaling

Keep a gratitude journal as part of your daily routine. Take a few minutes at a consistent time of day to write down or talk to someone you care about, sharing the things that you’re thankful for. It could be as simple as appreciating a sunny day or a recent good conversation. Regularly reflecting on the positive things in your life helps create a habit of gratitude and boosts your overall happiness!

Whether it’s taking a moment out of your day to thank someone in your head, writing a letter of appreciation, or performing a random act of kindness, practicing gratitude changes our outlook on our everyday lives. The grace of gratitude lies in its ability to transform our own and other people’s perception of the world around us. It’s a graceful art of noticing and appreciating the blessings around us, minor and major! It’s a gentle reminder that even in a wave of challenges, there is always something to be thankful for. So, let’s embrace the beauty of gratitude, make it a foundation to our daily lives and sit back and see how the appreciation spreads!

“This is a wonderful day. I have never seen this one before.”

– Maya Angelou

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