Although life can be a rollercoaster of ups and downs, wins and L's, it's fair to say that with every day we face, even if it may not seem that way, there is always something to be grateful for.
It's like a domino effect of positivity when it comes to gratitude. As you identify one thing to be grateful for, you are able to enter into a flow of gratitude, and you'll find more and more things begin to trickle into your mind to be thankful for.
Thankfulness is an infectious habit to develop, and the results can be life-changing; it is evident that gratitude has a positive effect on us, inside and out, and can change our outlook on life for the better, and as we'll see in a moment, a gratitude practice can even help to improve our training.
What is Gratitude?
Gratitude is defined as showing thanks and appreciation for what we have in our lives, whether positive or negative. It's the deliberate act of bringing awareness to the people, situations, and possessions we have in our lives and directing our deep appreciation of these things into the foreground.
This can be anything general like "I am so grateful for my health and that I get to wake up each day" to something more personal like "I am so grateful that I got to reconnect with an old friend today and enjoy uplifting conversations that left me feeling happy and energized".
Focusing on the good in our lives and being grateful for what we have can increase our life satisfaction and happiness. The more we express gratitude the more we see value in the things around us, and the easier we find it to see things to be grateful for in any situation.
This can really help when it comes to training, as so much of the success of our performance comes down to our mindset, and if we utilize the positive frame of mind gratitude puts us in, we can go far.
With this in mind, we've highlighted 5 ways practicing gratitude can improve your training.
How Can Practicing Gratitude Improve Your Training?
Gratitude Increases Self-Esteem and Confidence
Gratitude Improves Feelings Of Happiness
Gratitude Helps With Goal-Attainment
Gratitude Improves Stress-Management
Gratitude Promotes Physical Health and Improves Performance
Gratitude Increases Self-Esteem And Confidence
Research into how gratitude enhances well-being highlights the correlation between gratitude and improved self-esteem . For example, think about how rewarding it feels when you notice the good things others do for you or the positivity they bring to your life.
This optimistic attitude towards life and appreciation for the good in others can be like a mirror reflecting back on you, where you’re able to also appreciate things about yourself, and in turn, boost your self-confidence.
The contribution to an increase of self-worth that gratitude facilitates is something that can be taken straight to the field, track, or gym floor. Self-esteem is a crucial element of sport performance, as it enables self-confidence, whilst helping to prevent damaging habits like comparison to others.
Multiple studies show the connection between practicing gratitude and improved self-esteem, with one study, in particular, finding positive results between athletes' increased self-esteem and practicing daily gratitude .
The increased confidence that showing gratitude can bring can encourage you to find your feet in your training, and finally master that workout you’ve wanted to try in the gym. When you feel more comfortable and confident in yourself, you’re more likely to try out new things and push yourself outside your comfort zone physically. And when you feel a heightened sense of self-esteem, you feel confident in your body and your journey, which will positively impact your training and performance.
Gratitude Improves Feelings Of Happiness
As well as increasing your self-worth, expressing gratitude helps to cultivate a positive mindset and feelings of happiness and wellbeing. Positive psychology researchers found a positive correlation between giving thanks and happiness (no surprise there, right) .
When we think of the things that make us most happy, it’s usually something or someone we have a great appreciation for, and that thought process is essentially all that a gratitude practice looks like.
Naturally, if we wake up in the morning and take time to meditate on the things we are thankful for, positive feelings are going to come up, and it will set us up amazingly for the day. So imagine the happiness bubble you could be in when you can be intentional about your thoughts and express gratitude whenever you can.
If being the most grateful person in the room wasn’t enough, research also shows that grateful people experience higher levels of positive emotions such as joy, enthusiasm, love, happiness, and optimism .
If you ask anyone who works out regularly, they’ll likely say the hardest part of exercising is finding the motivation to do it. But when you’re happy and feeling positive, you’re more than likely to feel motivated to work out and appreciate the benefits of exercise.
Walking into the gym in a positive mood can make all the difference in your performance. With a happy disposition, you'll likely feel more focused and determined to smash your workout and feel an increased sense of accomplishment. Happiness is infectious, the positive energy you bring to your fitness environment might just rub off on someone else, how incredible is that?!
So yeah, you heard it right - jot down that gratitude list, and we’ll see you at the squat rack.
Gratitude Helps With Goal Attainment
Reaching any goal you set for yourself takes a sustained level of self-control and discipline, which is no easy feat, but expressing gratitude has actually been found to help cultivate these traits that help with goal attainment.
One study discovered that students were more proactive in making progress to reach their goals when also committing to a gratitude practice .
“The grateful are also patient”, outlines another study that identifies the link between patience and gratitude . We can show gratitude at any point during the day, but there’s a lot to be taken from the physical ritual of sitting down and taking the time to write a gratitude list. This requires a great deal of patience and self-control, helping to build good habits and routines over time.
By practicing gratitude and enhancing your patience and skillset, you’ll set up a great foundation for goal attainment. Self-control and perseverance, improved by gratitude practice, are essential to reaching your fitness goals.
Results don’t happen overnight when it comes to fitness goals, and having the patience to recognize your progress over time, rather than seeking immediate effects is commendable. In support of this, gratitude can assist goal attainment by helping you to see your fitness journey as exactly that, a journey, one of which you can be grateful for at every milestone, enjoying your gradual progression and proactively working towards the end goal.
As you become more disciplined with your training, you’ll find it easier to hold yourself accountable when tracking your progress and prioritizing progressive overload. You’ll push yourself far beyond your pre-conceived limits, hitting PBs and pursuing mini-goals as you’ll have that lil’ something inside you telling you to keep going and not give up.
Gratitude Improves Stress Management
Robert A. Emmons, the world's leading expert on gratitude, concludes in one of his many books on the subject that people who practice gratitude are able to cope with the stresses of daily life better, show higher resilience when faced with trauma-based stress, and recover faster from illness .
Stress can sure take its toll on your body, whether that’s from you not getting enough hours wink due to stress, or finding yourself more prone to injury or illnesses because of stress and burnout. A lot of the time, we don’t even know it’s stress causing our health issues, which is even more reason to take preventative mindfulness steps, like experiencing gratitude. Showing gratitude can help you cope with stress better, allowing you to have a healthier functioning body, and mind.
Recent research on gratitude shows significant benefits to a person’s overall well-being and ability to flourish in life psychologically, spiritually, and physically . Focusing on the good in our lives can act as an effective coping mechanism for stress. It’s not that life will miraculously become stress-free, but that it will become easier when we can learn how to manage our stress.
Not to mention the positive effects on our physical health, with one study finding improvements to the heart health of patients who implemented a gratitude practice into their lives . The study also saw improvements in some patients' self-confidence and sleep quality, as well as a decrease in depression and fatigue when committing to regularly exercising gratitude.
The coping strategies learned from having a grateful outlook on life can transfer over to your fitness regime, as less stress means your body is able to train better. An effect of gratitude is a boost in energy and greater confidence, which you need to succeed in training. Reduced stress will allow you to push yourself further during each workout and may leave you less prone to injury and burnout.
Gratitude Promotes Physical Health And Improves Performance
Expressing gratitude and having a positive mindset can improve your sense of self-confidence and motivation towards exercise, and as shown by research in the field of positive psychology, gratitude can also improve athletic performance.
Gratitude has been found to positively impact team-playing. “There’s no I in team” as the ‘ol saying goes, and as whimsical as that is, putting one's own needs and wants aside and focusing on those of the team as a whole, is what most contributes to a team's success.
Researchers have found that the social impact of gratitude in sports can result in better performance in teams by improving cohesion, support, joy, and motivation among teammates .
Based on research into the benefits of gratitude in sport, it is clear that a gratitude practice helps build resilience, an essential skill in any game. When you begin to appreciate your training it changes your mindset, allowing you to see challenges in a more positive light and frame difficult tasks as more manageable .
Positivity can be promoted by showing gratitude for the opportunity to exercise, the equipment you get to use, the location in which you train, or even just the ability to move. You may become more motivated to improve your fitness, set new goals, and also discover a new appreciation for the privilege of being able to improve your physical health.
How to start a gratitude practice?
Choose a time of day you want to set aside for your practice.
Grab a pen and notebook, or even download a gratitude app on your phone.
Write a list of anything you’re thankful for, it can be the simplest things or deeply personal.
Go deeper by journalling if lists aren’t your thing because you just can’t stop at 5 bullet points. Get all your thoughts out on paper, and incorporate what you’re grateful for in your life this way, it might come more naturally to you.
Reflect on the grateful thoughts that come up and use this positive routine to kickstart an optimistic outlook for the day.
Notice what you can be grateful for during the day and share your gratitude with others.
Say thank you more often!
As the day ends, reflect on the high moments and the lows, and in contrast everything you can express gratitude for.
Our 5 Best Gratitude and Mindfulness Apps
Apps can be really helpful when attempting to start a new habit, especially in developing gratitude. With these gratitude apps, you can set daily reminders to show thanks and have a one-stop-shop to write down all your grateful thoughts, just at the tap of a button.
Presently: A Gratitude Journal
Gratitude - Diary, Journal
Reflectly - Journal & AI Diary
I Am - Daily Affirmations
5 Minute Journal: Self-Care
The Gratitude Round-Up
It can be as simple as being aware of your thoughts and directing your focus to the good in your life. When stuck in negative thought patterns, it’s easy to just spiral, but if you catch yourself and direct your thoughts to what you are grateful for, you can experience more positivity.
Express gratitude for others more often and speak out loudly about the things you’re grateful for. Incorporating gratitude into conversations will get you used to practicing it and bring a positive attitude to you and the people you engage with.
Harness the power of the mind! You don’t necessarily need any tools to become a more grateful person, just your thoughts. How about setting yourself the task of thinking of something you’re grateful for every hour of the day? Soon it will become second nature as you focus on the positives in life.
Fancy a positive podcast to add to your morning gratitude practice? Take a look at our pick of 10 upbeat podcasts guaranteed to boost your mood and brighten your day.
 Thanks! How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier Book by Robert A. Emmons
 Brightening the Mind: The Impact of Practicing Gratitude on Focus and Resilience in Learning Book by Jane Taylor Wilson