Family Guide on How to Practice Gratitude

Family life is busy – with the whole family rushing through the daily grind, it’s easy to overlook the simple joys in life. It leaves us less happy and feeling displeased. What if there was a way to boost happiness and appreciation, and cultivate a more positive outlook? This Family Guide on How to Practice Gratitude is your roadmap to building a more positive and joyful family experience.


Your Family Guide on How to Practice Gratitude

More happiness, appreciation, and well-being are just a few simple acts away. This Family Guide on How to Practice Gratitude will equip you with practical strategies for your family to practice gratitude in your daily routine, fostering a sense of appreciation and well-being within your entire family. With brains programmed to problem solve, sometimes we struggle to simply appreciate things around us. When you override your instincts, you can reap the benefits of gratitude.


What is Gratitude?

Gratitude is more than just saying, “Thank you”. Gratitude is a conscious state of acknowledging and appreciating the good things in your life. When we focus on what is good, the little blessings, or moments of joy, it helps us build resilience against negative experiences.


Benefits of Practicing Gratitude: To Yourself

The act of feeling grateful has powerful benefits for you – it helps you feel happier, lowers blood pressure, and may reduce the risk of heart disease, according to studies.


Benefits of Practicing Gratitude: To Your Family

When we express any emotion (anger, sadness, or joy) to another person it shapes their thoughts, feelings, and behaviour. Thus, an act of gratitude greatly influences your family members – even if it’s not evident right away.


The Science Behind Gratitude

Research suggests that practicing gratitude can have a profound impact on our well-being. Here’s how:

  • More Satisfied: Many studies show a link between gratitude and life satisfaction, particularly in countries, like Canada. Higher levels of gratitude increase life satisfaction, which in turn increases gratitude – it’s a positive spiral.
  • Boosts Happiness:Gratitude leads to increased feelings of happiness and contentment.
  • Strengthens Relationships:Gratitude fosters positive social connections. By expressing appreciation for loved ones, we strengthen bonds and build trust.
  • Motivates: When a group of university students listed 5 things they were grateful for each day for a week, it positively impacted their academic motivation.
  • Improves Mental Wellbeing:Gratitude can act as a buffer against stress and builds resilience. Studies have shown it can reduce symptoms of depression and increase resilience.
  • Enhances Heart Health:There are 19 studies suggesting gratitude practices may positively impact biomarkers of cardiovascular disease
  • Sleep Quality: Positive thoughts before sleep were related to good sleep quality.

These benefits are especially valuable within a family unit. By fostering a culture of gratitude, you’re not only nurturing individual well-being but also creating a more positive and supportive environment for everyone.


How to Practice Gratitude as a Family

Now, let’s explore some practical ways to incorporate gratitude into your family life:

  • Lead by Example: You can start practicing gratitude with a simple journal. Curled up in a cozy chair in the early morning or perhaps to relax your mind before sleep, take a moment each day to think back on your day and write down moments that brought you joy. Maybe the sun was shining warm into your office window, there was a friendly wave from a neighbour, or you ate the most deliciously, sweet strawberry. Perhaps you write down what you’re grateful for having, food and clean water to drink, electricity to keep you warm at night, or someone who loves you – sometimes practicing gratitude includes things you may commonly take for granted. When you lead by example, your family can see for themselves the benefits of practicing gratitude.
  • The Power of “Thank You”: Make it a habit to express gratitude for everyday things, big or small. Encourage your children to thank each other, you, and the bus driver.
  • Mealtime Gratitude: At mealtime, or in the car (if you’re a busy family) have each person share something they’re thankful for that day. It could be a delicious meal, a fun activity, a hug, or simply being together as a family.
  • Gratitude Games: Make practicing gratitude fun! Play games where you have to name things you’re grateful for in each letter of the alphabet or play “I Spy” during a walk outside while others try to guess what in your neighbourhood you’re seeing that you’re grateful for.
  • Give Back Together: Volunteering together is a powerful way to cultivate gratitude. Choose a cause your family cares about and spend time volunteering. Perhaps it’s joining into a charity walk or run, or participating in a spring clean-up. Not only will you be helping others, but you’ll also be fostering an appreciation for what you have.
  • Tech Timeout: In today’s digital world, it’s easy to get caught up in screens. Schedule regular “tech timeouts” where the whole family disconnects from devices. This creates space for genuine connection, fostering gratitude for face-to-face interactions.
  • Gratitude Jar: Create a beautiful jar where each family member can write down things they’re grateful for on slips of paper. During dinner or family time, take turns reading aloud what you’re thankful for. This creates a positive focus and sparks conversation.

This list is just a start – find ways to practice gratitude that inspires your family. The key is to be creative and find ways to integrate gratitude practices into your family’s routine – as consistency is key. The more you practice gratitude, the more naturally it becomes a part of your everyday – and the results are joyous.


How to Make a Gratitude Jar

Try this fun and creative way for your family to practice gratitude

  1. Whether a box, glass jar, or small container, create a vessel of happy, grateful moments.
  2. To start, write down something you are grateful for or a happy moment of joy on small pieces of paper, then put it in your gratitude jar.
  3. Set a goal to write a gratitude note – choose a frequency that isn’t daunting, and feels achievable. You could start with 3-4 times per week.
  4. Each time you write a gratitude note, remember things that made you smile that day, or something that brought you joy.
  5. In a short time, you’ll have a container filled with beautiful moments you can look back on. These notes will make you feel happier and support you in tough times.

Choose a special day to read through all of the notes in your gratitude jar as a family – it’s a deep, enriching experience.


Gratitude: Part of a Holistic Lifestyle

By incorporating some of these simple, small strategies, your family will find how easy it is to practice gratitude – most importantly, they will enjoy more happiness and joy. By focusing on the good things, your family can become more positive and resilient through the ups and downs that life brings.

As the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition, we support Canadian families through education, to foster holistic well-being. Wellness is more than the food your family eats or the physical activity in your day – your mind and spirit also have impact on your body’s wellbeing.

Gratitude is a key ingredient to a healthy and happy family life. Cultivate gratitude together and nurture more fulfilling and joyful experiences for you and your loved ones.



Scientific Studies:

A Brief Gratitude Writing Intervention Decreased Stress and Negative Affect During the COVID-19 Pandemic. J Happiness Stud 2022; 23(6): 2427-2448.
Being thankful for what you have: a systematic review of the evidence for the effect of gratitude on life satisfaction. Psychol Res Behav Manag 2023;  16: 4799-4816.
Better Together: Integrative Analysis of Behavioral Gratitude in Close Relationships using the Three-factorial Interpersonal Emotions (TIE) Framework. Emotion 2022 Dec; 22(8): 1739-1754.
|Enhanced academic motivation in university students following a 2-week online gratitude journal intervention. BMC Psychol. 2021; 9: 71.
The impact of gratitude interventions on patients with cardiovascular disease: a systematic review. Front Psychol. 2023; 14: 1243598.
The Reciprocal Relationship Between Gratitude and Life Satisfaction: Evidence from Two Longitudinal Field Studies. Front Psychol 2019; 10: 2480.
The effects of gratitude interventions: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Einstein (Sao Paulo) 2023 Aug 11; 21:eRW0371.
Gratitude influences sleep through the mechanism of pre-sleep cognitions. J Psychosom Res 2009 Jan; 66(1): 43-8.