How Teens Can Adopt an Attitude of Gratitude

Jun 11, 2021

The vast majority of us feel gratitude on a regular basis. Getting a good grade, scoring a tricky shot in a sports game, or even making it to the bus on time are all moments where we may feel a momentary spark of gratitude. This fleeting feeling may make us feel happy and satisfied in the moment, but it likely won’t lead to lasting change in our lives.

In recent years, scientists have begun to research and examine what happens to individuals who practice gratitude regularly. It shouldn’t surprise you to learn that the results are pretty incredible.

Gratitude has been shown to lead to overall improvements in our happiness, life satisfaction, and connections with others. The earlier we can start this practice, the better off we’ll be for the rest of our lives.

Today, we’ll explore how adopting a regular practice of gratitude as a teenager can change mindsets, causing far-reaching positive effects in our lives.

How Gratitude Can Change Mindsets

Many academic and scientific studies over the last several years have tried to pinpoint just how gratitude affects our overall mindset.

One ten-week study done by psychologists at the University of Miami and the University of California suggested that people who kept a weekly gratitude journal exercised more, were more optimistic, and were happier about their lives. Another study found that gratitude can improve relationships, in both personal and work settings.

It isn’t just adults who may benefit from gratitude. One study of 2,000 early university students found that those who wrote letters expressing their thanks for something another person did experienced better overall mental health than those who either wrote about negative experiences or didn’t write anything at all.

By helping us focus on positive emotions, practicing gratitude helps prime our brain to be more sensitive, making it easier to recognize and acknowledge positive emotions we experience in the future.

3 Easy Ways for Teens to Practice Gratitude

Now that we understand just how helpful practicing gratitude can be, where can we start?

Here are some suggestions

1. Keep a journal

Keeping a daily or weekly gratitude journal is one of the easiest ways to train your brain to focus on gratitude. All you need is a notebook, or even a dedicated note or file on your computer. Either daily or weekly, jot down a few notes of whatever you’re grateful for. It doesn’t have to be big – just write down anything that comes to mind.

2. Think about how often you say ‘thank you’

Many of us say ‘thank you’ so often that it’s become rote. Instead of staying on autopilot, start getting a bit more specific whenever you want to express gratitude for something someone has done.

Instead of a casual “thanks” when someone does you a favor, be more intentional. Here are a few examples:

“Hey, I appreciate you doing that for me.”
“I’m grateful for your kindness”
“When you took the time to do that, it meant a lot to me. Thank you” 

3. Share it with others

Gratitude doesn’t have to be something you keep to yourself. The next time someone does something you appreciate, share it with them in the form of a letter. If you’re really shy or feel awkward about it, practice writing gratitude letters that you don’t send until you feel more comfortable.

Adopting an attitude of gratitude can be a huge game-changer, especially if you do it during your teenage years. For more ideas on how to make school and learning easier, check out our resources here.