Developing Gratitude

Flex your gratitude muscle

Research shows that developing and practicing gratitude can noticeably improve your overall well-being and outlook on life. With regular practice, you'll train your mind to better appreciate and retain positive experiences and thoughts, and to deflect negative ones.

Resources and handouts

The HCI has curated handouts and worksheets containing helpful information and tips for practicing gratitude that you can use in your classrooms, programs, and/or offices.

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Gratitude rocks

The secret to this exercise is that the rock is a symbol, a physical object you can use to remind yourself of what you have and what you are grateful for. Follow these steps to help practice mindfulness in your day-to-day activities.

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Gratitude letter basics

Writing a handwritten letter to someone you are grateful for has shown to increase life satisfaction and happiness, as well as decrease symptoms of depression. Choose a blank notecard and write or your own note, or follow our mad-lib style template linked in the section below.

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Anatomy of a gratitude letter

This fill-in-the-blanks template will help you structure your gratitude letter. Identify someone in your life who has made a positive impact on you, fill in the blanks, and deliver it to the recipient of your choice.

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Gratitude reflection and apps

Reflection is an important part of mindfulness and enhancing your well-being. Follow these steps to practice gratitude reflection, or check out one of the gratitude apps on the list to help keep a regular gratitude practice.

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Journal prompts — 10 minutes to recognize the good stuff

Follow this template to recognize and express gratitude for everything and everyone you have to be thankful for, whether it be friends, family, places, hobbies, events, or more.

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Leave a little gratitude business cards

Spread the love and pay it forward — print these cards out and keep one as a reminder of what you have and what you are grateful for, or pass it on to someone who could use it.

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Gratitude photos

Gratitude photos are a great group activity. Choose one of the prompts, write it on a blank card and get ready to pose for a photo with your card.

Share the photo with someone important in your life, or keep it to yourself to reflect on later. If you are willing to share your photo, consider creating a group gratitude collage. 

  • "I am grateful for my family because…"
  • "Something good happened this week…"
  • "I am grateful for my friendship with… because…"
  • "I am grateful for who I am because…"
  • "Something silly that I am grateful for…"
  • "Something else I am grateful for…"
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10 tips for resiliency

Manage stress with these 10 tips for resiliency, including expressing gratitude, showing compassion to others, and thinking positively.

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The science of gratitude

This infographic outlines the numerous benefits of expressing gratitude as shown by research studies. Practicing gratitude boosts the production of both dopamine and serotonin in the brain, creating feelings of happiness and contentment. 

Finding little ways to express your appreciation and be more thankful can:

  • Improve your mental and physical health
  • Boost your self-esteem
  • Enhance your sleep
  • Increase your empathy

Here are a few simple ways to nurture an attitude of gratitude:

  • Savor the positive by celebrating minor accomplishments and other good experiences.
  • Share the love by telling the people in your life — family, friends, colleagues — something you appreciate or admire about them.
  • Be more kind by volunteering, holding a door for a stranger, or simply smiling more.
  • Try meditating with daily 5–10 minute meditation exercises.
  • Capture your gratitude by keeping a daily gratitude journal or using a gratitude app.