happiness is an open road
which comes first: happiness or gratitude?

the benefits of having a grateful day


The other day I was at the grocery store and, as I was checking out and leaving, the woman behind the counter handed me my change and said, "Have a grateful day!" My mind did a double take after hearing this. I'm so used to hearing "Have a great day" that I was surprised by her words. I turned to her and smiled and said, "Thank you! You too!" Of course she had no idea that at that very moment she was inspiring me to write a post about gratitude. Because I think about living in the moment so frequently, I also spend a lot of time thinking about gratitude. Why? Because being grateful helps me stay in the moment. Sometimes I really struggle with being present, even though it's such an important part of my life these days, so when I'm feeling like I just can't handle whatever moment I'm in, I start thinking about all of the things I'm grateful for.

For example, let's say I'm standing in line somewhere and I'm in a hurry and I don't feel well and I have a million things piling up on my desk. Let's say I haven't slept well so I'm extra cranky and it's just before lunchtime so I'm super hungry too. This is one of those moments where I'm not at all feeling like living in the moment. In fact, I'm pretty sure I want to be anywhere other than that moment. So what do I do? I take a deep breath, look around me, and start to focus my mind on gratitude. I ask myself, "What is good about this situation? What is good about my life right now?" When I do this, I instantly find myself centered, in the moment, and actually happy for the moment. I begin to realize that, even though I'm tired and hungry and don't feel so good, all of those things will pass and later that day I'll be in bed, with a full belly, resting and recovering. I realize that even though I'm waiting in a god-awful line in a crowded store that I'm lucky to be standing there, to be alive, and to have a capable mind and body. Believe me, I know how cliche and cheesy and sugary-sweet that sounds (I think the old me would have literally thrown up reading that paragraph), but it really does work. It really does!

When I first began thinking about gratitude, I thought it was all a little ridiculous the way some people went around being grateful for everything. Back when I was much more naive, it seemed to me that so many things were a given and that we didn't really have to think too much about being thankful. In the past, I was happy to write a thank you note or to offer words of gratitude to someone who had helped me out, but the most I ever really thought about being thankful was when the Thanksgiving holiday was approaching and the whole concept of being grateful was forced upon you. I used to not really get the point of being thankful. Always looking for the purpose behind something, I never could quite figure out what I could get out of feeling grateful. I understood what I got out of telling others I was thankful, but I didn't really see the point of spending a lot of time being thankful internally. Until now. Now I realize just how important gratitude is. It actually serves a real, true purpose in my life. I use it to do so many things and you can too! Check out the many uses of gratitude...

The Uses of Gratitude

  • Use gratitude to center yourself. This is probably the greatest use I've found for gratitude. Whenever I'm feeling upset or angry or frustrated or down, I think about the things I am grateful for and I feel much, much better. It really is a great tool to use to tackle some of the hardest emotions and I find that it almost always snaps me out of whatever funk I've found myself in.

  • Use gratitude to live in the moment. When I'm struggling to live in the moment (as I often am!), I find that being grateful really helps to bring me into the present. It's easy to get caught up thinking about the past or worrying about the future, but when I look around and start thinking of all the things I have to be grateful for, I find that I'm really, truly living in the moment.

  • Use gratitude to enhance relationships. Nothing makes a relationship better than when you are truly grateful for the other person. Sure, all relationships have ups and downs, but if you keep gratitude in mind no matter what you're going through, you're more likely to have a much better relationship. Be grateful for the people in your life and you'll find that your appreciate comes through in your words and actions.

  • Use gratitude to motivate yourself. Sometimes I find that it's hard to get motivated and I wonder what I can really contribute to the world. That's when I start using gratitude again. Once I start thinking about all of the things I'm thankful for -- including my own abilities -- I feel a lot more inspired. Being grateful can motivate you to believe in yourself and it can also inspire you to look around you and see all that you have to offer the world.

  • Use gratitude to overcome hurdles. Life is pretty hard sometimes, but when you find yourself focusing on what you're grateful for, all of the trials you have to face become more manageable. I can't say that gratitude is a cure all for every problem, but it really does help to put things in perspective when you're going through a tough time. Next time you're feeling down, think of all the things you're grateful for. I guarantee you'll feel inspired!

  • Use gratitude to improve your health. I'm not a doctor or a scientist, but I've read on more than one occasion that being grateful can actually improve your physical health. I don't have any statistics to back up this claim, but I can say that gratitude greatly reduces my stress level, which ultimately makes me a much healthier person. One thing I know for sure: gratitude certainly can't hurt your health, so it's worth a try to start thinking grateful thoughts.


Clearly, being grateful has some pretty sweet benefits. I used to think all of this was a bit of nonsense and that people used gratitude as a distraction so they didn't think about all of the miserable parts of their lives, but now I know that I really does have amazing benefits. There are so many things we should all be grateful for and even though it can be really, really hard at times to think about being thankful, it really does make even the worst situations more bearable. I really believe that having a grateful attitude gives us the power to turn any day -- even a really bad one! -- into a day worth celebrating.

When the woman at the grocery store told me to have a grateful day, I was certainly surprised, but then it all began to make sense. Of course I should have a grateful day because if I have a grateful day I'm going to have a day that's pretty close to awesome. Perhaps I am just extremely lucky, but I have so, so many things to be grateful for and once I start thinking about them all I find that I am happier, uplifted, and recognizing just how great my life is. An attitude of gratitude might not be able to transform a terrible day into a perfect one, but it can come pretty darn close.

We might not have the power to control everything in our lives, but we do have the power to take our thoughts and focus them on the positive things. Thinking about all of the things you are grateful for is one of the best ways to do this and I've found that the right attitude can absolutely transform my day. When I am grateful, I am living in the moment, I am happy for the moment. I can honestly say that when I start thinking about all of the things I'm grateful for, even a bad day can start to seem pretty good...

Because of the upcoming holiday -- Thanksgiving! Yay! -- I'll be focusing a lot on gratitude this week on Positively Present. While you're waiting for the next post about gratitude, check out these awesome gratitude resources:

I Am Thankful
5 Benefits of Gratitude
Cultivating Gratitude
Giving Thanks for 21 Blessings in Disguise
The Benefits of Gratitude
Gratitude: A Positive Psychology Perspective


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It's always good to gain a little extra perspective, and this is a great way to do it.

What a wonderful thing to say to someone, "Have a grateful day!" I love it!

I can't give you any scientific proof about gratitude and health either, but I can tell you as a diabetic and chronic insomniac that when I have trouble falling asleep I'll start saying all the things I'm grateful for, and I usually end up having a great night's sleep and a lower than average glucose reading in the morning. So for me there are definite health benefits to being grateful.


I find myself trying to remember to not "sweat the small stuff" frequently. I'm impatient and sometimes I let that get out of hand. So I try to take a deep breath and remind myself that I'm over reacting and that I need to chill out! :)

Gratitude is a powerful force.

I regularly use it to remind me of what's working, to balance out what's not.

Absolutely! Another use of gratitude I've experienced is feeling connected. When I focus on what I'm grateful for, I'm also saying 'thank you': to people, to other facets of the world around me, to the universe, for blessing me with those things. So gratitude fosters feelings of belonging, of being not alone and struggling but supported and part of something bigger. Thanks Dani for reminding us of how powerful it is.

Hi Dani. What is neat about this is that I felt you WERE in the moment when you described all the "negatives". It's just that it wasn't the moment you wanted to be in; you recognized it and changed your perspective by focusing on the gratitude. You go girl!

I am so grateful today for all the help I received in producing my fund raising e book for Unicef - Instead of focusing on how I did not have money to make a donation this year, I opened the door to my creative possibilities - I was amazed at how many folks joined in and encouraged. I have just spent a month in such a deeply grateful place - and now I read your lovely words and find renewed joy...

Oh yes! I want to say that gratitude helps heal the physical body with laser precision.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and I am grateful for your writing :)

LiLu - You highlighted a great point about perspective. Being grateful really does put things in perspective for me which is one of the most awesome things about it.

Helena - I know! Isn't that great? I thought it was so cool when that woman said that to me. That's so awesome that you've had great experiences with gratitude too. Love it!

Michelle - I'm definite;y impatient too which is why being grateful really helps me. It forces me to stay in the moment and to be more positive.

J.D. - You brought up another great use for gratitude. It helps you sort out what's truly important in life!

Catherine - Really excellent point about how being grateful helps us to be more connected to others and reminds us to thank those around us that make our lives better.

Davina - That's a great point! I was living in the moment, but I was unhappy with it, so I changed my thoughts about it. I didn't think about it like that, but it's so true!

Patricia - That's so great that you have something so wonderful to be grateful for. It's amazing what a great support system can do and how much gratitude can impact our lives. I'm grateful to YOU for reading my blog. Thanks! :)

On those days I'm feeling low...and something happens, that is just perfect for the moment, it makes me stop, give thanks, and recenters me to a better state of mind.

Gratitude is truly life changing!

This is great medicine for daily living. Being grateful doesn't require anything out of life - only that we accept what is and love it all the same.

Great post!

Dawn - It's so amazing when that happens, isn't it? I love when I recognize the need for gratitude and then see how it can change my whole day around.

Steven - I'm glad you brought up the point about accepting what is because that really is important when it comes to gratitude. Great point!

Hi Dani,
This post is so uplifting and positive. Thank you for sharing your experience at the grocery store, and all the many uses for gratitude that it inspired!
Have a wonderful, and grateful, week! Jodi

Jodi - I'm so glad you enjoyed this post and found it uplifting! :) It was so great to be inspired by that woman at the grocery store and I'm really glad I have an outlet through which I can share my thoughts on gratitude. Have a great week!

Gratitude is a powerful thing. Being grateful truly does help my morning and life be just that much better.
Great post as usual :)

Hi Dani,

This is a wonderful post. Someone very wise once said to me " When we are not happy, it is because we are not grateful!"
Great stuff, I stumbled it.
Thanks for sharing.
Giovanna Garcia
Imperfect Action is better than No Action

Gratitude is of course a powerful practice.

But honestly, it seems the LOA has gratitude into some sort of reward system.

In my experience, gratitude happens when we stop doing instead of when we try to do it. When we stop holding on, gratitude shows up naturally as the love of life.

deep and humble bows of THANKS.

Hey Dani! I think gratitude is the most important ingredient for any big self change. Once we are able to be thankful for what we have, our world just opens up to so many opportunities.

"today is perfect day for a perfect day"

great quote!

Dani, this is inspired. And I am sooo tempted to gank "Have a grateful day!" except it wouldn't be as authentic for ME as "Have an awesome day!" But still the sentiment is excellent and so full of love.

Josten - It's definitely powerful and, like you, I find that it makes my life so much better!

Giovanna - Thank you! And what a great quote that is! I'm going to be writing something along those lines for my Wednesday post so stay tuned. :)

Kaushik - You've brought up a very interesting point! Often gratitude appears most not when we seek it out but when we allow ourselves to just be.

Lisa - You're welcome! :)

Rocky - Such a great point -- gratitude really is essential when it comes to changing one's self because it opens us up to so many possibilities. I thought the quote fit in well with this one because, through being grateful, we have the power to make any day better!

Hayden - Thanks! Having an awesome day is still a great thing to say and it's definitely different than have a great day. It's always great to hear people mix it up. I hope YOU have an awesome, grateful day. :)

A friend of mine swears by gratitude, saying it's changed his attitude and life around. I feel the same way. I love how you wrote about its benefits in keeping us grounded. I did a gratitude exercise last night before falling asleep, and it really works wonders.
Awesome topic, and I love the checkout woman's use of it and how it inspired you!

Megan - Gratitude definitely works for me, though I never would have guessed that it would mean as much to me as it does. When I take the time to be grateful, I really do make my life a LOT better!

What a wonderful post! I love that the woman at the check out said have a grateful day...how cool is that? Gratitude is totally centering and grounding. It makes you look around your life...and realize all the goodness that surrounds you.

I do want to say your last few posts have been incredible...sorry for not leaving comments...but know that I am so grateful for your blog and incredible insights!

Have a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving, Dani!

Thanks for sharing Dani. This is a good reminder and something I can keep in mind since I've had a rough few days.

Caroline - Thank you so much! I loved what that woman said too. To be honest, she didn't sound very happy about it, but it made me very happy that she said it. Thank you so much for reading! It makes me happy to know that you've enjoyed my posts so much. :)

Srinivas - You're welcome! I was definitely reminded of the importance of gratitude when that woman said to me, "Have a grateful day!" and I'm glad I had the opportunity to share that story with you here.

All right, that's it. There should be a law stating that "have a great day" must officially be changed to "have a grateful day."


Meream - Hahaha, love your comment! :)

These are words I live by! Being grateful for what is good in life offsets all the bad stuff.

You are right, when we are younger we aren't as grateful, because we haven't experienced so much of the shit storm that is life!

Joanne - That's awesome! It's great to be grateful and I bet you're a happier person because of your grateful nature. It's definitely hard to be as grateful when you're younger, but I feel like the more I learn, the more I am thankful.

This is the time of gratitude for the good and the bad. I've got much to be grateful for.

Syd - It really is and I'm glad you brought up the point about the good and the bad. It's important to be grateful for everything because those not-so-great experiences really do make us stronger.

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