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21 Things to be Thankful For (Backed Up By Studies)

Being thankful is not just dependent on how much you have to be thankful for. It’s based on what you choose to be thankful for. So, what are you thankful for?

It can sometimes be difficult to realize what you can be thankful and grateful for. When the world seems full of challenges and hurdles, you might need some inspiration on the things that you can be grateful for. Seeing that gratitude is linked to happiness, you have all the more reason to practice thankfulness every once in a while.

In this article, I’ve summarized 21 unique and inspiring things to be thankful. And it’s not just a personal list, I’ve asked many people online and tried to create the most varying and unique list.

Why should you be thankful?

As I mentioned in the intro, there are plenty of reasons to be thankful in life. Even when luck doesn’t seem to be on your side, it’s always good to try to at least consider some of the things that are still kind to you.

But why exactly should you be thankful? How exactly does a little gratitude improve your life? There have been multiple fascinating studies that prove multiple links between thankfulness and positive factors in life, but I want to highlight two of them here.

Being grateful is related to an increase in your happiness

One of the most detailed studies on thankfulness was conducted in 2003 by Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough. They monitored the happiness of a group of people after having asked the following question:

“There are many things in our lives, both large and small, that we might be grateful about. Think back over the past week and write down on the lines below up to five things in your life that you are grateful or thankful for.”

The study showed that people who are encouraged to think of things they’re grateful for are approximately 10% happier than those who are not.

A 10% increase in happiness as a result of practicing gratitude is very big in my opinion.

Being thankful is linked to improved quality of sleep

In addition, another study reviewed the influence of gratitude on the quality of sleep.

This study tested whether individual differences in gratitude are related to sleep quality. Gratitude predicted greater subjective sleep quality and sleep duration, and less sleep latency and daytime dysfunction. These results were found after studying 400 people of all ages.

Long story short, thinking about things to be thankful for and grateful for before going to bed is linked to a better quality of sleep. This is also why it’s good to maintain a gratitude journal right before going to sleep!

If you’re interested in reading more about research on gratitude and thankfulness, here’s a great resource to get you going.

What are you thankful for?

Where most articles about things to be thankful for just show a list of things that the author is thankful for, I wanted to go one step further.

Sure, I can easily think of over a hundred things that I am grateful for, but I wanted to include things that I’ve never thought of yet.

So I went online and asked around:

What is something that you are grateful for? For example, you can be grateful for someone smiling at you, for a beautiful sunset, or for some nice music that you recently listened to. Whatever comes to your mind is OK!

Below is a complete list of the unique answers that I’ve received. So if you’re ever wondering what you can be thankful and grateful for, then this should give you a good idea!

List of things to be thankful and grateful for

Here are the answers, unfiltered and sorted randomly! Some are serious and heavy, while others might seem a bit random, weird, and sometimes even funny. A number of items on this list might not even be relevant to your situation, but I tried to include something of everything!

1. Thankful for having a loving dog

Who’s thankful: Suset Laboy

What are you thankful for?

I am deeply grateful for my coffee-loving dog. Every morning, as soon as he smells the coffee my sister is making, he runs to the kitchen because he loves the smell. When she is done, he chases her to the couch and sit on her and tries to convince her to give him some coffee. It is both hilarious and heartwarming, and I have started looking forward to this little morning ritual that brings some much needed levity into our days.

2. Thankful for having a caring parent

Who’s thankful: Nancy Osoro

What are you thankful for?

I always start my day with a little gratitude as soon as my feet hit the floor. But lately, I have been very grateful for my mom who is constantly reminding me to drink my fresh ginger tea to keep me healthy during these crazy and stressful times.

Despite a 7-hour time difference, she makes it a point of calling every day. It makes me realize how lucky I am.

3. Thankful for the good deeds that exist in this world

Who’s thankful: Leia Kalani

What are you thankful for?

We live in a crazy world and it’s far too easy to only see the negative around us. I am so grateful every time I see someone do a good deed for someone else, even a small gesture can have a huge impact. Whether it’s helping a blind person cross the street, carrying groceries for the elderly, or even holding the door open for someone, these good deeds rekindle my belief in the good of humanity.

It’s easy to get bogged down by society but opening your eyes and seeing the good can make you thankful that there are still good people in the world.

hugging more is a good positive changes in life

4. Thankful for enjoying time spent with my family

This list wouldn’t be complete without a specific mention of family.

The truth is, I love spending time with my family, mainly my parents, brother, and sister. I’m thankful for the time my brother, sister and I ran a marathon together. Or the many dinners at my parents with the entire family. Or when my father takes me and my brother to Austria for a couple of days of hiking in the mountains.

I am extremely thankful for having a loving family, and it’s something that I should always try to remember when I’m feeling down or unhappy.

5. Thankful for a great show on Netflix

Who’s thankful: Nancy Irwin

What are you thankful for?

I’m grateful for the amazing cast, set designers, and costumes of The Crown. I am so grateful that I can curl up in a soft blanket on my sofa and binge this amazing educational, historical, fascinating show during my free time now.

6. Thankful for the beautiful sunlight

Who’s thankful: Joy Rains

What are you thankful for?

I’m grateful for sunlight! Yesterday afternoon, a sunbeam entered my home through the dining room window. Bright yellow circles of light landed on the legs of my dining room chairs. Each chair looked to be adorned with glistening jewels. I smiled, grateful to be a witness to nature’s magic.


7. Thankful for the many good memories in my life

This is something that I’m personally very grateful for in my life.

I keep an entire memory journal dedicated to remembering the many good memories of my life.

I find that remembering good memories helps me maintain a happy mind. Thinking back about that time that I laughed my ass off about something silly brings a smile to my face. This is something I try to do daily, whenever I find a moment to stand still and think about my life.

8. Thankful for having a roof above my head

Who’s thankful: Tessa Hull

What are you thankful for?

I’m grateful for knowing that I’m not “stuck” in the house but “safe” in the house while others out there cannot be so lucky, either not having a roof over their head or not feeling safe in their own home. Knowing how to reframe my thoughts when I’m feeling rubbish helps. I’m also super grateful for a steady supply of Italian cheese. Because not everything you’re grateful for needs to be so serious.

9. Thankful for experiencing the struggles in life

Who’s thankful: Noelle Creamer

What are you thankful for?

Something that I am grateful for are struggles. To me, they are a gift. Rather than living a life of luxury and ease, my struggles over the years have taught me value, wisdom, and compassion. They have led me to spiritual growth. The greater the challenge I face, the more I learn, the more I progress, and the stronger I become. For that, I am grateful.

10. Thankful for being able to go on walks

Who’s thankful: Emily Adams

What are you thankful for?

I am grateful to have my health and the fact that I can still spend time in nature. On my walk today I was able to see four baby foxes and just soak it all in and I am grateful for that.

11. Thankful for spending time in nature

Who’s thankful: Nekeshia Hammond

What are you thankful for?

I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to spend time in nature. Whether it is taking the time to watch a sunset, spending time on a beach, or enjoying time in the mountains (if I’m visiting another place), nature offers such peace of mind. As we can all get so busy with the day-to-day, it’s nice to unwind, take some deep breaths, and focus on the beauty that nature has to offer.

12. Thankful for getting to spend time with my girlfriend

This is one that I personally wanted to include in this list. I’m extremely grateful for the fact that my girlfriend and I somehow found each other in this world with over 7 billion people.

My relationship is one of my biggest happiness factors. I love my girlfriend and she makes my life happier on a daily basis. It almost sounds cheesy to write it down, but I just don’t want to take this relationship for granted. I feel lucky to have her in my life and wouldn’t want to imagine what it’d be like if it was any different.

It’s one of the things I’m most thankful for in life.

love is the key to happiness how to be happy

13. Thankful for waking up each morning with the birds outside of my window

Who’s thankful: Lynell Ross

What are you thankful for?

Each morning, I am treated with a visit from these precious little birds, first flying back and forth, then hovering in front of the glass as if they are saying good morning before they sit to drink their nectar. I love seeing their tiny little hummingbird shape and color so close up, reminding me to be aware of nature, which is so comforting and peaceful.

14. Thankful for appreciating music

This is another one that I personally wanted to add to the list.

If you still have your hearing, then you should be grateful for the beauty of sound. The fact that multiple sound waves combined form music that can carry emotion, tension and excitement is something that we often take for granted.

Music has the power to move. I personally experience this every once in a while, when a song sucks me in and takes me on a journey. This journey always ends up putting a smile on my face, and sometimes even brings me to tears. Tears of happiness, that is.

The fact that we’re able to hear and appreciate sounds and music is definitely something to be thankful for.

15. Thankful for getting to be vulnerable

Who’s thankful: Michelle Kuei

What are you thankful for?

I am grateful for all the connections I am able to make when I let my guard down and become vulnerable. Being able to use my vulnerability as a superpower to share my story with others provides healing in the heart of others. It gives them strength and comfort knowing they are not alone. This brings me joy, fulfillment, and purpose in my heart. I am grateful for the connections I have made through being vulnerable and sharing my story.

16. Thankful for seeing my strawberry plant grow

Who’s thankful: Chris Kaiser

What are you thankful for?

One small thing I’m super grateful for is seeing the flowers on the very first strawberry plant I ever planted. We planted it about 3 weeks ago on our balcony, and since then I’m diligently counting every single flower it produces (13 in total so far). Every tiny new flower puts a broad smile to my face.

strawberry plants thankful for

17. Thankful for the not-so-great stuff in life

Who’s thankful: Allen Klein

What are you thankful for?

This may sound strange, but I’m grateful for the not-so-great stuff in my life. They are my greatest teachers.

For example, I learned about living fully from those who have passed on. I’ve learned to appreciate my body more from the times things don’t function as they should. And now, I’m learning about being grateful for the parks in my neighborhood now that I have to shelter in place during this pandemic.

18. Thankful for my life partner

Who’s thankful: Saurabh Jindal

What are you thankful for?

The biggest gift to me has been my wife, Rashmi Agarwal. She has been an unflinching pillar of support as I have gone through many difficult times while trying to build my start-up.

She is one of the smartest persons I have met and has an uncanny ability to look at any situation from multiple angles. As an entrepreneur, I sometimes work on my own and with small teams – and with her help I am able to achieve much more than what I would otherwise.

19. Thankful for all the farmers and drivers who nourish us with fresh food

Who’s thankful: Naz Beheshti

What are you thankful for?

I’m grateful for tasty celery again for my daily celery and lemon juice. I was about to take a break from my morning ritual since I was getting really bitter tasting celery at the store. But I persisted and waited in line for it, and now it’s tasty again. I’m grateful for all the farmers and drivers who nourish us with fresh and tasty products!

20. Thankful for technology

Who’s thankful: Terrell Strayhorn

What are you thankful for?

I’m really grateful for technology. Cell phones that keep me connected to my family, kids, colleagues, and students during the pandemic. Laptops and iPads that enable video connections via Zoom, provide “mental breaks” to play games or watch videos, and even apps for journaling and writing. Homepods and headphones that let me listen to music as a backdrop to serious activities like writing or analyzing data, but also music as a distraction to the crisis impacting us all.

Today, I’m grateful for technology.

21. Thankful for the feeling of putting on a fresh pair of socks

As a final item on this list, I wanted to finish with something silly and funny. But that doesn´t mean it’s less true.

Whenever I buy a new 5-pack of socks, I’m always surprised by how nice it feels to put them on for the first time. The feeling of smoothness that comes with putting on a pair of new socks is something I am truly grateful for.

Don’t you agree?

Closing words

There you have it. If you still can’t think of things to be thankful for, then I give up! 😉 Now that you’ve made it all the way down here, I hope you now:

  • have a good understanding of why you should always know something to be thankful for.
  • know why practicing gratitude is good for you.
  • realize that you can also be thankful for silly things that seem insignificant (like putting on a pair of fresh socks!).

Did I miss something that you would have liked to see on this list? Do you want to have your favorite thing to be thankful for listed in this article? I’d love to hear all about it in the comments below!

Founder of Tracking Happiness

Founder of Tracking Happiness and lives in the Netherlands. Ran 5 marathons, with one of them in under 4 hours (3:59:58 to be exact). Data junkie and happiness tracker for over 7 years.

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