Gratitude – Why We Should Start Showing Some
There is a line in a song, and I’m paraphrasing here, that says – that (happiness) is not getting what you want as much as wanting what you have. That is a form of gratitude. Having or showing gratitude has shown to have numerous and cascading health benefits for oneself. With all our striving for success and the hustle and bustle of trying to get ahead in everyday life, sometimes its good and apparently healthy, to step back, look around and be grateful for that we do have rather than be depressed, worried or anxious about the things that we don’t have. In fact having an attitude of gratitude can actually go a long way in setting you up to grow and succeed more. There have been many studies done in the neuroscience and psychology fields of the many health benefits of showing and keeping an attitude of gratitude. Let’s look at some of them.
The Benefits Of Gratitude
- The feelings of gratitude activate regions in the brain associated with the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers. Dopamine also helps regulate movement and emotional responses, and it enables us not only to see rewards, but to take action to move toward them.
- The act of gratitude can help us better manage stress.
- Showing gratitude has shown to help our immune system better fend off disease
- It increases positive emotions, promotes a higher sense of self-worth and helps prevent depression.
- Helps you get better sleep. -In a study where participants, who were required to write down what they were grateful for each night, they reported more hours of sleep each night and they felt more refreshed in the morning.
- Showing gratitude has shown to raise levels of serotonin, the “feel good” hormone in your brain. It is popularly thought to be a contributor to feelings of well-being and happiness.
- Gratitude has been shown to help lower your blood pressure and by doing so improve your cardiovascular health.
- People who show gratitude have been found to exercise more on a consistent basis.
- Feelings of gratitude are associated with increased feelings of closeness and therefore helps you build or strengthen relationships with others.
Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.
Tips For Exercising Your Gratitude Muscle
- Create a gratitude journal. Regularly update it with things you’re grateful for and occasionally reread what you have written.
- At night, just before bed, think of at least one thing you are grateful for, even if it is just the fact that you made it through a tough day. Over time you will get better at this and will be able to come up with more things to be grateful about.
- One study suggests, to create a habit, recalling 3 things you’re grateful for everyday for 21 days in order to rewire your brain for gratitude.
- Make it a point when you can to tell those close to you or people you’ve benefited from that you appreciate them.
Everything is interconnected. Gratitude improves sleep. Sleep reduces pain. Reduced pain improves your mood. Improved mood reduces anxiety, which improves focus and planning. Focus and planning help with decision making. Decision making further reduces anxiety and improves enjoyment. Enjoyment gives you more to be grateful for, which keeps that loop of the upward spiral going. Enjoyment also makes it more likely you’ll exercise and be social, which, in turn, will make you happier.
— Alex Korb, PHD –
Resources For You
- The Upward Spiral: Using Neuroscience to Reverse the Course of Depression, One Small Change at a Time
- The Gratitude Diaries: How a Year Looking on the Bright Side Can Transform Your Life
- The Grateful Brain
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