Gratitude: Your Building Block for Resilience

bullet journal with I am grateful in handwriting

Isn’t it wonderful when you try something and it works out really well? Whether it’s shaving that minute off your 5k run, reaching deadlines or discovering coping tools that help you feel positive and increasingly resilient. Resilience is something everyone needs as 2021 starts out with many feeling isolated during lockdowns, worried about challenges ahead. Gratitude is a building block for improved resilience. Here’s how it works.

Your Daily Five

One very simple daily routine, and a great place to start when building your toolkit is with a gratitude practice. Incorporating something I call the Daily Five Thank You’s into your daily schedule, can produce instant mindset change – to make this mindset change last, you’ll need to build a habit.

You can say your Five Thank You’s (5 things you’re grateful for), throughout the day, whenever it suits you, wherever you need to—any time you feel that changing your current thinking pattern would benefit your day. In the beginning, while the habit is forming, I recommend choosing a specific time every day and setting a reminder. Before you start the practice, decide what time of day would benefit you most. Practicing gratitude at least once each day is a baseline. There may be times when you want to practice more than that—absolutely, go for it.

Keep it Simple

Morning, when you wake up, before you even get out of bed, is a good time to say thank you for the things in your life that you appreciate. Keep this list simple, say thank you for:

  • A good night’s sleep, the comfy bed.
  • The fact that you organised your work schedule and your clothes last night.
  • A nice morning coffee

-choose what’s relevant to you.

The items you select don’t have to be complicated or deep. Switching your mind to an outlook of gratitude means your day instantly starts on a more positive note. Perhaps, if you’ve had a sleepless night, take a brisk walk, eat a nice breakfast, or savour that first coffee before you list your Five Thank You’s. This will make it easier!

Use Gratitude as a Building Block for Improved Resilience

I’ve practiced gratitude in the morning for many years. Oh boy, it makes all the difference in my outlook, changes the tone for my day from morning-grouch-mood to a more positive one! I started the habit in my mid-twenties when I was running my own pharmacies. Business was challenging. There were cashflow difficulties. Interest rates were extremely high, so loans were out of the question. And I had no idea how to lead and motivate my team for better results. I was learning by my mistakes (plenty of opportunity) and finding it difficult to cope.

Start Today

Also, unable to afford a good car, I drove an old Volkswagen Beetle with a hole in the floor under my right foot. When it rained or when I drove through a puddle, my foot got soaked. This same car didn’t do well on hills unless I built up enough speed to take a good run at them. One hill became a real problem. It’s in the middle of Dublin city, en route to work at the time—a busy route. If I needed to stop on this hill at a red traffic signal, I almost always had to get out and push (in the never-ending rain) to start the car again. I depended on the kindness of strangers to help get up and over the hill. My job, my finances—it was all getting me down. Having read somewhere that practicing gratitude would help, I started searching my brain for the good things in my life.

I started to say ‘thank you’ for at least five things a day. I did this, two to three times every day—on the way to work, driving home, and sometimes late at night too. Advice in the myriad self-help books and articles I read was to keep it simple, so I did. I said ‘thank you’ for a good night’s sleep, the first lovely cup of tea in the morning (the first cup is always the best), a sunny day, an interesting conversation, after my car got up and over that big hill, and any exercise I managed to fit in. If I ran early that morning, I said ‘thanks’ for that. If I didn’t run, I said ‘thanks’ for the extra half hour in bed. You’ll always find stuff to be grateful for if you choose to do so.

Be Specific and ‘in the moment’

When listing Five Thank You’s, it’s important to be 100 percent truthful with yourself. Only say ‘thank you’ for things you’re truly grateful for. There’s nobody you need to impress with this. For the morning thank you’s, you may find it helpful to be specific and not get into generalities. We may definitely be thankful for our families, friends, and being alive. I recommend however, for these 5 thank you’s to really benefit you – be specific about what you’re grateful for in the moment. It not only improves the moment, but it increases your awareness of what you appreciate.

Usually there are slightly different things to be grateful for each day; by being specific, within a few days, you’ll widen the lens of all you have in your life that’s a little wonderful. Being specific also helps you recognise patterns in your gratitude as time goes by, especially if you write down what you’re thankful for so you can easily track these things. Hugs, exercise, a tasty coffee, meeting special friends—can all remind you of what you’d like to do more of in your life. For instance, a friend of mine told me that she often says thank you for escaping being awakened during the night by a snoring husband, thus getting a proper night’s sleep! Not a bad use of gratitude as a building block for improved resilience…


In addition to choosing a particular time each day, taking a breath and switching to gratitude any time you feel stressed or under pressure can calm you, ground you in the moment, and elevate your mood. During a particularly stressful workday, it’s good to find a space away from your desk, perhaps out of your home or office, take a few deep breaths, and remind yourself of the good things that happened that day. There will always be a few.

The Five Thank You’s are also extremely effective for unwinding at the end of the day. You know how tough it can be. Sometimes at night, when you’re tired, stress and unhappiness can hit. Or after an especially busy day, when you’re weary, your mind won’t calm down. Before going to bed, writing down and then repeating the Five Thank You’s can help lift your mood, calm your mind, and help you get to sleep more easily. Try it and see…

After a few days of listing the Five Thank You’s regularly, no matter how stressful your life, you’ll realise there’s something every day to be grateful for. Things like an enjoyable phone call from a friend, a tasty dinner, a lovely hot shower, a laugh with a colleague. Perhaps you overcame a challenge, helped a co-worker, or organised your home-office/kitchen. Even in stressful times, it’s possible to find moments to be thankful for—you choose to do so.

Build Your Resilience with Gratitude

Friends, clients, and colleagues tell me they rely on this tool when they feel particularly fed up with life. Many say that within a very short time, not only does expressing gratitude become a habit, but they start appreciating life again. This makes hard times easier, improves resilience. One client told me that logging daily in a gratitude journal whilst going through her divorce helped keep her sane. Try it and see. This practice takes very little time out of your day. The beauty of it is, the more you do it, the more benefits you’ll see. Improved mindset and positivity as well as starting to worry less and cope better, are on the way.

Using gratitude as a building block for improved resilience has helped many people. Check out our Gratitude book, diary to help build your gratitude habit, and some journaling space – all in one, here:

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