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Practicing Gratitude

Written by: Hannah Highdale, Program Manager at Pivot Fitness in IDS Center | AdvantageHealth

Gratitude. How would you define it? How do you practice it? Do you think it’s linked to improving mental health? Let’s dive into “Practicing Gratitude” as the month of November is “Practice Gratitude” month.

“The quality of being thankful, readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.” After reading the definition of gratitude, you may realize that you do it on a daily or weekly basis without consciously knowing or trying. Take a moment right now to think of one thing or person you’re thankful for. Take another moment to appreciate one thing or person around you and acknowledge it or tell this person. How do you feel? Perhaps you feel just a bit happier than a few minutes ago. Congratulations, you just practiced gratitude!

Practicing gratitude can separate us from the toxic emotions we may be feeling which in turn can improve our mental health and mood. We can all use a little pick me up from time to time so in those moments, remember how to reflect, acknowledge and practice gratitude. Here’s a recommendation, try writing a gratitude letter. This can help us shift our attention from toxic emotions such as resentment and jealousy to more positive emotions such as happiness and realizing how blessed you truly are.

This can be a personal journey if you choose for it to be. This can also be a journey you invite others to experience with you. Gratitude helps improve your mental health even if you don’t share it with others. If you’re unsure or not ready for someone else to read your gratitude’s, I encourage you to write them anyway and keep them to yourself until you’re ready, if it comes to that point. Regardless, the effort of writing the letter can help you appreciate the people in your life and change your focus from negative feelings and thoughts to positive feelings and thoughts.

Below you can find a short, simple mindful gratitude exercise:

  1. Start by observing. Notice the thank yous you say. Just how habitual a response is it? Is it a hasty aside, an afterthought? How are you feeling when you express thanks in small transactions? Stressed, uptight, a little absent-minded? Do a quick scan of your body—are you already physically moving on to your next interaction?

  2. Pick one interaction a day. When your instinct to say “thanks” arises, stop for a moment and take note. Can you name what you feel grateful for, even beyond the gesture that’s been extended? Then say thank you.

Gratitude is something manageable, beneficial and life changing for every type of person to practice. The next time you’re feeling down, anxious, mad, or need an energy boost, I encourage you to step back and think of or write down 3 things you’re grateful for and express why you’re grateful for them. If you ever want to share what you’re grateful for, feel free to email me and I would be happy to celebrate the joys in your life with you!

Here’s to living a happy, healthy and grateful life!

Send gratitude letters to Hannah at



Since 2001, Minnesota-based AdvantageHealth has been delivering award-winning employee wellbeing programs and fitness center design & management throughout the U.S.

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