Gratitude is a powerful tool (not the first to mention this). Research suggests that the simple act of expressing gratitude can actually have lasting effects on the way our brains function. 

It’s defined as the “quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.” Like most things, the real-life application of it is more nuanced. It takes many forms other than saying thank you. To illustrate just a few, three expert Coaches explain below how they incorporate gratitude into their lives and work. 

How do you define gratitude? 

Sam Morris, Mindfulness Coach: True gratitude extends beyond a mental appreciation for the “things I have.” It is an embodied experience of fulfillment with the treasures of life; the silent but powerful beauty of nature, the mystery of existence and all the amazing things that help us to live healthy and abundant lives. 

Jenifer Merifield, Personal Excellence Mentor and Coach: Gratitude is an acknowledgment of appreciation for something. 

Kaden James, Author and Life Coach: Acknowledging love, while simultaneously experiencing more. 

How do you use the concepts in your work with clients? 

SM: I suggest to my clients that they slow down enough to sense what is already here and to feel where they are already supported by life itself. For each one of us, our involvement in sustaining ourselves has been relatively minimal. Everything from the food we get to the clothing we were and the cars we drive all had tocme from so many things outside of us. When we slow down enough to receive it, gratitude has a chance to come to us without us needing to find it. 

JM: It’s one of the most simple concepts I like to share with my clients that can shift bad moods and negative perceptions very quickly and drastically. When we’re in a state of fear or frustration, our focus is on what’s lacking or unwanted, our breath gets shallow or quick, our body gets tense, our digestion and nervous system is poorly affected. When we shift to, “What can I be grateful for right now?”, we automatically start searching for what’s good, what’s comfortable, and what we appreciate.

KJ: I often share that gratitude creates a great attitude so I sometimes even write the word out as greatitude. I start and end each day with gratitude. My bed feels like a sacred space because when I wake and before I go to sleep I say or think about things I am grateful for and why. This makes a difference in how my day flows. The beauty is it’s free, it’s healing, it feels amazing, and anyone can do it. 

What benefits do you see when gratitude and appreciation are applied in life? How do you practice gratitude? 

SM: I don’t “apply” or “practice” gratitude personally. I live gratitude by keeping reality in perspective. If not for the combined efforts of countless people and natural processes, I would not be having the extraordinary experience of being alive and living in a way that is relatively free and aligned with my values and intentions. 

JM: Physiologically, our breath and heart rate becomes more coherent, our body and nervous system relaxes, and chemicals that induce healing are released from our brains. You could say then that appreciation is a key factor in healthy living! Keep in mind that maintaining a state of gratitude and appreciation is a conscious choice. Most people spend more time focusing on lack, fear, and potential worst-case-scenario worry situations of the future. The more you tip the scales in favour of grateful focus, the more momentum you’ll build in making Gratitude and Appreciation your automatic default. 

Start by saying Thank You as soon as you wake up, all day shift into gratitude when you feel fear or thoughts of lack coming on, notice the details of simple things… what do you appreciate about what’s around you? When someone else negatively triggers you, tell yourself it has nothing to do with you and then see what you can appreciate or be grateful for about that person; there is always something if you seek to find it and the results are always beneficial! Thank you, thank you, thank you… smile, deep breath in, exhale.

KJ: There is no area of my life that hasn’t benefitted from appreciation. In relationships, acknowledging people and seeing the good in them elevates all. When it comes to my body, loving it means I am kinder to it and more respectful of it. This also means we release less stress hormones that attack our bodies. Appreciating nature and the world means we see its value and we are more likely to take better care of it. Appreciating our clients, our boss or co-workers means we get more opportunities to serve, we are better leaders and we advance. Appreciating anything nurtures it and helps us to grow the good.

I say “thank you” all the time, in simple quiet moments, or loudly in praise! I say “thank you” when I wake up in the morning. “Thank you” when someone writes me a message. I say “thank you” when I feel called to open a book up to a random page only to discover it was the exact message I needed. Now it’s my turn to say THANK YOU to YOU for reading them. Thank you, thank you, thank you…

To learn more, check out KadenSam and Jenifer