Gratitude Icebreaker Questions
Gratitude is an attitude: it may sound corny, but the truth is that if you seek out good things, you can always find them and the best part: your physical and mental well-being will improve overwhelmingly.
Sometimes we struggle to see the good in the world, and even in our day to day lives – we focus on what we do not have and what we are lacking. But we need to focus on what we do have; taking a moment every day, to show gratitude, not for anyone else but our own emotional and mental wellbeing.
The experience of gratitude encourages us to appreciate what is good in our lives and compels us to pay this goodness forward. People with more grateful dispositions report being happier and more satisfied with their lives. Gratitude also functions as social glue that nurtures the formation of new friendships, enriches our existing relationships, and underlies the very foundation of human society.
In today’s fast-paced, monetized world, we can fool ourselves into thinking we should measure our lives and fortunes in terms of physical possessions and material objects. But this would be a mistake.
You see, sometimes we have it backwards: Happiness and joy that comes from owning stuff and collecting possessions do not provide gratitude, for this is short-term and shallow. This would explain why many of us feel unfulfilled and lonely at times.
Instead, gratitude itself (the daily ritual of showing grace for what we have that cannot be measured in material terms) brings us joy and a sense of fulfilment that could never be filled with objects or possessions.
Showing gratitude is simple, so why do we forget to take a moment each day and do it?
We’re not ungrateful or thankless, but we are busy, and sometimes the simplest things get forgotten. But today, perhaps more than ever before, we need to find ways to improve our mental well-being providing time to pause, find peace and a deeper understanding of what we need emotionally.
Watching the news, listening to others moan and complain, pressure at work – we can become so overwhelmed to the point of drowning in negativity. We forget that there is so much to be thankful for, so we must remind ourselves daily that our lives could be driven more positively by a strong sense of gratitude and appreciation for all that we have.
When performing a simple ritual every day, even if it’s just 5 minutes to begin with, you’ll quickly start to realize a shift in your mindset towards positivity and joy.
The impact of gratitude on our mental well being
Much research and study have been undertaken on gratitude and its impact on our emotions, mood, mind and mental well-being.
Two psychologists, Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California, Davis, and Dr. Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami, have done much of the research on gratitude.
In one study, they asked all participants to write a few sentences each week, focusing on particular topics. One group wrote about things they were grateful for that had occurred during the week. A second group wrote about daily irritations or things that had displeased them, and the third wrote about events that had affected them (with no emphasis on them being positive or negative). After 10 weeks, those who wrote about gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives.
While there is no evidential proof of the connection between gratitude and mental well-being, the following thoughts are widely supported
Gratitude reduces a multitude of toxic emotions, from envy and resentment to frustration and regret. Robert Emmons, a leading gratitude researcher, has conducted multiple studies on the link between gratitude and well-being. His research confirms that gratitude effectively increases happiness and reduces depression.
Proof or not, the long-term effects of a daily gratitude practice can bring joy and positivity to those doing it. It’s simple to do; you need no equipment and you can begin right now.
Start your gratitude practice
Below is a list of questions that will help you shift your focus towards a life filled with gratitude.
But before you begin with, consider these simple steps.
- There is no right or wrong answer to each question.
- Your practice is your own; even if you begin with 1 question per day, that’s great!
- You can perform this practice in your head, out loud or write it down.
- Many people create a gratitude journal: it can help to focus even deeper – the time taken to write can help embed the thought.
- Try to make your process a moment for yourself – this should not be another chore, so whatever way it works for you is best.
Gratitude Icebreaker Examples
Now let’s focus on some of the questions you could ask yourself. Again, these questions are simply prompts to get you started; you may think of others and develop your own over time.
- What can I give gratitude for today?
- Who am I thankful for in my life?
- Why am I thankful for them?
- What is the best thing that has happened today?
- What good things are possible today?
- I am thankful for my body because?
- What opportunities have I been given that I am thankful for?
- What am I looking forward to in the future?
- I am warm, sheltered and fed, how can I share my gratitude?
- What do I love about myself?
- What do I love about my body?
- What do I love about my brain?
- What do I love about my partner?
- What do I love about my children?
- What am I thankful for in nature?
- Which experiences am I thankful for?
- What was good about work today?
- Which colleagues and friends am I thankful for?
- How can I share my gratitude with strangers?
- What have others given me that I am thankful for?
- As I sit and look around me, what can I see that I am thankful for?
- What do I have to look forward to and give thanks for?
- How am I fortunate without including material things?
- What can I see out of the window and give thanks for?
- What have I learned recently that I am grateful for?
Ways to develop your gratitude practice
Many people enjoy this practice daily, while others have found ways to develop and strengthen their practice. Here are some ideas you may wish to try.
- Gratitude Journal: it’s not a special booklet; anything will do, but simply write down your thoughts on your feelings of gratitude. When you’re sad or low and need a boost, then re-reading your thoughts will remind you to reflect on the things you have rather than the things you lack.
- Meditation: taking the time to calm our minds in meditation is also a great moment to show gratitude. Begin your practice by reflecting on what you are grateful for, and then sit quietly in the space of love, peace and gratitude.
- Walking: this is a great way to exercise your body and mind and be with nature. Look around, look up and down and reflect on the amazing world around you. Breathe in deeply and listen to the birds. It will benefit both your body and your mental well-being.
- Write a letter: perhaps you can think of someone you haven’t thanked properly for a good deed or even a friend you can express gratitude for simply being there. You could even write a letter to a higher power to express your appreciation for your faith or forgiveness. Whomever you choose, it can be both powerful and uplifting.
Why is it important to find peace of mind and boost your mental well-being?
Today our lives are fast-paced, busy, distracted and can leave us feeling stressed, rushed and overwhelmed. We are constantly ‘plugged in’ and rarely switch off. Shifting from one screen to another and an itinerary that never ends. No wonder our mental health is suffering:
The mental health charity Mind reported that:
- 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem of some kind each year in England .
- 1 in 6 people report experiencing a common mental health problem (like anxiety and depression) in any given week in England
While there is also a dramatic increase in
A 2021 survey of children and young people’s mental health found that 17.4% of children aged 6-16 had a probable mental disorder in 2021
Helping children express gratitude
We must find balance and pause. We can teach our children to find balance too. We can easily help them learn about gratitude while making the process fun. At the end of the day, as we read a story, tuck our children into bed and kiss them goodnight, we can share a couple of moments and talk about what you are thankful for today.
As a parent, it will help you begin your daily habit while teaching your children a lifelong development of a positive attitude filled with gratitude.