Simple Things to Be Grateful for, Even When You Don’t Feel Thankful
Having a bad day? Week? Month?
Here’s something that’ll help make you feel better—gratitude.
Okay, I understand. You’re skeptical. Can gratitude really cheer me up? Does it really make a difference?
I once had the same doubts. I couldn’t imagine how “counting my blessings” could make me happier. That is until I got a taste of it myself.
I was 19, bald, my body swimming in a sea of medication, and my mind teetering on the brink of darkness. When your life’s on the edge of oblivion and you feel as though every day could be your last, you’d do anything to make you feel better about your circumstance. Heck, I’ll try this gratitude thing, I thought. And I was surprised to discover that it actually does make you feel better.
But as someone who likes to get to the bottom of everything, my initial response was: why?
Why Does Gratitude Make You Happier?
There’s plenty of research to show that gratitude has a real impact on our mental well being.
For example, in a randomized, controlled trial, researchers found that participants who were asked to write letters expressing their gratitude not only reported better mental health, this effect lasted more than 12 weeks after the experiment.
But you might wonder: can we physically “see” the effects of gratitude? Like the way we can see how insulin affects the body?
The answer is yes.
This experiment conducted by researchers at the University of Southern California showed that participants who were feeling grateful showed increased activity in brain regions linked to emotional processing, empathy, and interpersonal bonding—all important elements that contribute to positive social interactions. And we know that having positive social connections is critical to our wellbeing.
Now that you know why gratitude is good for you, let’s look at a simple and effective way to cultivate gratitude in your life—building a gratitude list. But if you’re new to practicing gratitude, or if you’re feeling down and not in the thankful mood, you might need a bit of inspiration to get the gratitude juices flowing.
Worry not, I’m here to offer you some ideas.
40 Things to be Grateful for When You’re Feeling Down
1. Hot Showers
We take hot showers for granted but in some parts of the world, access to clean (and not to mention hot) water is a luxury. And scented soap? That’s an extra blessing!
2. Good Friends Who Listen
Authentic friendships are a gem. Treasure those who listen not just with their ears, but with their hearts too.
3. The Sound of Rain
It’s the perfect background music to fall asleep to.
4. A Warm Cup of Coffee or Tea
It’s the taste of comfort. And We’re lucky to be able to enjoy so many different varieties of coffees and teas any time we feel like.
5. Funny animal videos
If you need a quick pick-me-up, just search “funny animal videos” online. I dare you not to laugh out loud.
6. Sunshine After Days (or Weeks) of Rain
Remember, the rainy days won’t last forever.
7. Your Favourite TV Shows When Growing Up
For me, it’s “Friends” and “The Simpsons”. They always bring a smile to my face. What shows made you happy growing up?
8. Your Family
You don’t have to be related by blood to call someone “family”. The only tie you need is unconditional love. And that, is a rare and special thing.
Don’t be afraid of hardships in life. They’ll make you tougher and wiser.
10. A Teacher or Mentor Who Has Shown You the Way
They guided you to the right path, warned you about the pitfalls along the way, and cheered for you until you drummed up enough courage to take your first step. That, my friend, is love.
Music heals the mind, body, and soul. Plus if you have music, you have a reason to dance.
12. Your Cozy Place
Is it your bed, your sofa, or perhaps your mom’s kitchen? Wherever it might be, take comfort in the fact that you have a place to put your feet up and let your hair down.
13. An Act of Kindness From a stranger
Let it be a reminder to you that the world is full of good people.
14. Your First Pay Cheque
It may not have been much, but it was your first step to real independence.
15. Thoughtful Gifts
Someone cared enough to make the effort in picking out a thoughtful gift for you, and that in itself is a gift.
16. Honest Feedback
Be wary of flattery, for it may taste heavenly, but it’s nothing more than empty calories. Honest feedback, on the other hand, may taste bitter at first, but it provides the nourishment you need in order to grow.
17. Clothes That Make You Feel Confident
Do you have an outfit that you can count on for a quick confidence boost? Rock it girl!
18. The Start of the Weekend
Time to kick off your heels, get in a bath, and relax.
19. Social Progress
Although we still have a long way to go, we’ve made great strides in social progress in the past 100 years. For example, my great-great-grandmother had to have her feet bound (a standard custom in China up until the early 20th century). Whenever I think about that, I’m glad I live in this day and age.
20. Youtube Tutorials
Want to learn how to play the guitar, make a gluten-free cake, or how to speak German in time for your upcoming trip to Munich? Thank goodness for Youtube tutorials!
21. Appliances That Save You Time
Hard to believe, but once upon a time people had to wash a family’s worth of clothes by hand, or send a message to their loved ones by telegram.
22. Your Furry Friend’s Adorable Face
They may not speak your language, but they understand your happiness and your pain. And they make great cuddle buddies. What more can you ask for in a best friend?
23. A Delicious Cake
I’m all for healthy eating, believe me. But there are times when you need to stuff your face with the creamiest, most decadent cake you can find. Oh, I’m drooling already.
24. Fresh Air
We might not think twice about the fresh air we’re breathing now, but if global warming continues, it might be all we can think about in a few decades. It’s already a dire problem in many parts of the world. So cherish the supply of fresh air you have around you.
25. Clean bedsheets
Nothing beats that feeling you get falling into a bed with clean sheets after a long and tiring day.
Books can expand our world, change our perspectives, and instill new ways of thinking. Here’s a list of the 10 best books I’ve read.
27. Your Ability to Read
If you’re reading this, consider yourself blessed. Because not everyone in the world has the power of literacy. Back in 1960, more than half of the world’s population could not read. Today, 17% of the world’s population still cannot read.
28. Songs You Grew Up Listening To
They have a magical way of enticing you to sing along and leave your woes behind.
29. Modern Technology
Yes, being glued to our phones and tablets are bad for us, but if used mindfully, these gadgets enhance our lives in ways we could only dream of decades ago.
30. Medical Breakthroughs
Did you know that doctors didn’t even know that dirty hands could spread infections until a Hungarian doctor by the name of Ignaz Semmelweis made the connection in 1846? And before the use of ether as an anesthetic in 1846, the operation table was a place of abhorrent pain and terror? Now we’re transplanting organs, reversing the effects of aging, and using stem cells to cure a host of diseases (including my cancer). All thanks to the medical breakthroughs we’ve had in the last 200 years. It’s a great time to be alive!
31. A Bowl of Hot Soup
There’s a reason why soup is universal to every culture. It satisfies our desires for nourishment, comfort, and warmth all at once.
32. Meaningful Conversations
Meaningful conversations are hard to come by these days. Just take a look on social media and you’ll know what I’m talking about. So if you have someone in your life whom you can have meaningful conversations with, what a treat!
33. A Good Night’s Sleep
A good night’s sleep is hard to come by. In fact, 8 out of 10 people say they need better sleep, according to this global sleep survey. So if you happen to have a good night’s sleep, it’s an accomplishment worth celebrating.
34. Your Failures
Your failures bring you closer to success, and they make everything taste so much sweeter in the end.
35. A Family Recipe
A family recipe is one of the best gifts you can receive and give. By learning and passing down your family recipe, you bear witness to your family’s history and the love you share.
36. Finding Something You Thought You’d Lost
Your cat. Your keys. Or maybe even Yourself. When you find something you thought you’d lost, everything feels right again.
37. Free Food at Work
Hallelujah! Where can I line up?
38. Your Ability to Breathe
How well you breathe has a significant impact on how well you live. Here are some simple tips to help you take better care of your lungs.
39. A Day to Yourself
We all need quiet time to ourselves. But as we get older and have more responsibilities, these moments seem to get rarer and rarer. So if you get a day all to yourself, savour every moment of it!
No matter how bad things may look today, tomorrow’s another day.
With so many things to be grateful for, what are you waiting for? Start your own gratitude list today!
Now I want to hear from you. What are you most grateful for?