Embracing Radical Gratitude

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The Benefits of Radical Gratitude

A woman makes a heart with her hands praticing gratitude

Practicing gratitude is commonly known to be good for our mental health and overall well-being. It can be easy to identify things we are grateful for—especially on good days. Gratitude can be more challenging on difficult days. There can also be tough and challenging days where even the thought of expressing Gratitude feels insurmountable.  

Enter Radical Gratitude.

What is Radical Gratitude?

Radical Gratitude involves embracing our entire experience and seeing the value in every situation. It goes beyond focusing on good or positive experiences and challenges us to find the benefit in any area of our lives, including difficult and mundane moments. It involves examining our attitude and beliefs towards situations we may initially perceive as negative and reframing them to notice the value they contribute to our lives. Radical Gratitude allows us to go deeper than our surface experience and focus on lessons we might learn from difficult times, growth opportunities, and the “whys” underlying life’s annoyances. For example, we might initially feel frustrated whenever we pay a recurring bill (e.g., rent, mortgage, utilities, etc.). 

When we focus on that frustration, it can easily lead to complaining and focusing on the negative feelings we may have toward parting with money. A Radical Gratitude focus allows us to appreciate the benefits we are gaining from those expenses (e.g., housing expenses turn into feeling grateful for having a home, utility bills can remind us of how fortunate we are that we live in a time and place where we can have access to these resources, etc.). 

Benefits of Radical Gratitude

Practicing Radical Gratitude can be transformative.  It can permeate our mood and improve our overall demeanor.


Impact of Radical Gratitude on Ourselves

When Radical Gratitude becomes a regular practice, we become more optimistic, patient, resilient, and receptive to opportunity. It will shift our mindset from scarcity and dissatisfaction to abundance and contentment and allow us to experience a more fulfilling life. These benefits can, in turn, reduce anxiety, mitigate depression, lower stress, improve our sleep, and boost our health. 

Radical Gratitude’s Impact on Others

The benefits of Radical Gratitude go beyond how we feel internally and can extend to those around us. When we focus on a sense of appreciation and the things that connect us, we start to feel more connected and express appreciation to others. It helps to enhance our empathy, kindness, and compassion toward others, leading to deeper and more meaningful relationships. 

Radical Gratitude is also contagious! A genuine sense of optimism and appreciation does not go unnoticed by others! It is often a quality that others respect and will try to emulate, continuing to foster more collaborative and supportive relationships.

Practicing Radical Gratitude

Developing a habit of Radical Gratitude requires more introspection and intention than simply practicing Gratitude. However, with regular practice, it will start coming easier and feeling more natural. Not sure where to start? Here are some suggestions.

7 Strategies for Cultivating a Habit of Practicing Radical Gratitude

  • Learn to recognize when experiences evoke negative emotions -those situations are perfect opportunities to use Radical Gratitude! When this occurs, take a moment to notice your thoughts and find ways to reframe them as a more favorable situation. You can ask yourself:
    • “Why does this exist in my life?”  This question is great for things we may not automatically view as positive, such as bills, expenses, commutes, and challenging relationships.
    • “What did I learn to allow me to have a better experience next time?” “How am I able to grow from this?” When an experience or relationship does not turn out how we hoped, these questions allow us to cultivate optimism and see where we could benefit. 
  • Regularly express gratitude to others in a way that acknowledges what they do and who they are. Expressing frequent gratitude can deepen your connections, foster a more positive environment around you, and can be applied across situations, regardless of the relationship.  Remembering these things when experiencing strain with friends, family, co-workers, and other close relationships can be extremely helpful. It can also diffuse or transform a potentially negative situation with a stranger (e.g., imagine what it would feel like to thank a store clerk for coming to work that day rather than focusing on how long you had to wait). 
  • Anchor a gratitude ritual into your routine. Challenge yourself to set aside time each day to reflect on things you are grateful for. Give yourself a quantifiable benchmark of items to identify. You can always start small and increase the number, but you may be surprised at how quickly you can list ten or more items with little effort.
  • Keep a gratitude journal. Journals are great ways to remind yourself of past successes when you are feeling stuck. They also provide opportunities to reflect and gain a new perspective.
  • Pay attention to the language you use—including self-talk—and embrace “and” over “but.” The word “but” tends to set a negative tone and will inherently diminish one part of a statement. Simply swapping “but” for “and” can have a transformative impact on your perspective. It puts a different frame on a potentially negative experience by acknowledging that situation's duality. 
  • Acknowledge and honor all your emotions. Radical Gratitude is not about ignoring or suppressing negative emotions. The point is not to force a positive outlook. It is to recognize a range of emotions and own your experience while identifying potential positives and areas of growth or opportunity. 
  • Be sure to be authentic. Forced or insincere expressions of Gratitude can feel hollow and won’t yield the same benefits. To experience the transformative effects of Radical Gratitude, it is essential to recognize and feel a real sense of Gratitude.

By recognizing that every moment, challenge, and blessing holds the potential for growth, learning, and transformation, we can unlock a richer, more connected, and fulfilling life. While moving toward a regular habit of Radical Gratitude may initially feel awkward, with effort and intentional practice, you will develop a new overall mindset and soon notice incredible rewards! 

Best of luck in your transformative journey, and remember, you never have to do it alone!

Woman holding out arms in nature feeling content and grateful


  1. Emmons, R. A., & McCullough, M. E. (2003). Counting Blessings Versus Burdens: An Experimental Investigation of Gratitude and Subjective Well-Being in Daily Life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84(2), 377-389.
  2. Emmons, R. A., & Stern, R. (2013). Gratitude as a Psychotherapeutic Intervention. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 69(8), 846-855.
  3. Cassidy, K. (2021). Getting Radical About Gratitude. Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

  4. Chen, L. H., & Kee, Y. H. (2008). Gratitude and Adolescent Athletes' Well-Being. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 20(2), 175-192.
  5. Grant, A. M., & Gino, F. (2010). A Little Thanks Goes a Long Way: Explaining Why Gratitude Expressions Motivate Prosocial Behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 98(6), 946-955.