Simple Life Tricks for Awe & Gratitude

By Bonnie Harnden, MA, RDT

How do we retrain our eyes to see beauty when we are bombarded by stress and have a negativity bias? This bias is hardwired in us and how we have survived – like being attuned to signs of danger in our environment, such as seeking safety from a dangerous animal. Many of us are stuck in noticing what’s not working, are stressed, and are in chronic cycles of flight, fight, and freeze.

Alternatively, when we can notice beauty, notice what’s working, and feel gratitude for it there are a profound number of benefits to our bodies, minds, and relationships. Stress takes us out of the river of life and of presence. Awe and gratitude, when harnessed, can bring us back.

Try these simple life tricks for awe and gratitude to decrease stress and improve relationships in your everyday life.

Decrease Stress through a Snapshot
Throughout your week, I invite you to notice moments of beauty and goodness. Stay with those moments a little longer than you might normally – drink them in. It can be moments you notice outside in nature, the delicious cup of tea you just drank, or your friend’s smile. Notice the moments of ordinary magic that are right there and accessible, even when we are struggling.

Creative action: Once you’ve noticed a moment of beauty or goodness, take a photo! Below are a few examples of ordinary magic from UCLArts & Healing’s Digital Media Manager, Janelle.




Improve Relationships by Writing a Haiku
You can also notice the beauty in the people around you. Notice their good qualities and how much you appreciate them. When we notice the good and feel gratitude in our relationships, we resolve conflict quicker, easier, and report overall greater levels of relationship satisfaction.

Creative action: Write a haiku that showcases the qualities of someone you appreciate. This can follow a traditional syllable structure (5-7-7) or simply be three lines with however many syllables. Here is another example from Janelle—can you guess who she wrote about?

Goofy and loyal
Always excited to walk
Happy to see me

Share your Gratitude
Have your creative action featured in a collective collage on UCLArts & Healing’s social media! Email your photos and haikus to Janelle,

Learn More About Awe & Gratitude
The awe and gratitude research is unequivocal in its report of the positive effects for us in our lives and in our capacity to take social action. Our upcoming training will guide you on how to build robust, resilient nervous systems and to engage deeply in your community and relationships. Come and learn how to harness these effects every day. Click here to learn more about our one-day training on February 13, 2022: Awe and Gratitude for Healing, Renewal, and Social Action Online Training.