What are you grateful for in this moment? What do you appreciate more than anything right now? Maybe it’s for the food on your table, your family, friends or your health. Think about what you really value in your life right now.
This simple act of gratitude could actually make your brain and body happier and healthier!
More and more research is proving that something as simple and easy as giving thanks regularly can drastically improve our overall health and wellbeing!
Let me share with you how.
Firstly, what exactly is gratitude? To me, it is the appreciation of what is valuable and meaningful. It’s a general state of thankfulness.
It doesn’t take big events or expensive objects to create gratitude. You can actually train yourself to constantly be grateful for the little things in life; it could be something as simple as the roof over your head, a smile from a stranger, your ability to take a deep breath, or feeling the warmth of the sun on your skin.
Dr. Robert Emmons- Professor of Psychology and leading Gratitude Researcher, has conducted multiple studies on the link between gratitude and wellbeing. His research confirms that gratitude effectively increases happiness and reduces depression. He elaborates on this through a three-pronged theory he calls the ARC Model, featured in his latest book The Little Book Of Gratitude.
A – Gratitude amplifies the good in our lives, that which we see in ourselves and in others.
R – It rescues, by offsetting the chronic negativity we encounter from within and without.
C – It connects us with each other, strengthening and solidifying relationships with friends, family, neighbors and co-workers.
So what is happening in your brain when you feel gratitude?
Let’s start with your hypothalamus. It’s the part of your brain that regulates a number of your bodily functions including your appetite, your sleep, your temperature, metabolism, growth etc.
When we experience feelings of gratitude (as well as when we perform acts of kindness), our brain is flooded with the chemicals dopamine & serotonin – the bliss chemicals! When we are truly grateful for something or someone, our brains reward us by giving us a natural ‘high’. Because this feeling is so good, we are motivated to feel it again and again and become more inclined to give thanks and do good for others more often.
Zig Ziglar says “Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions, the more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.”
Gratitude has been proven to reduce a multitude of toxic emotions ranging from envy to resentment, anger and regret and is extremely beneficial for your mental health.
It turns out, that gratitude also plays a major role in overcoming trauma. There was a 2006 study published in the Behaviors Of Research And Therapy, which found that Vietnam War veterans with higher levels of gratitude experienced lower rates of posttraumatic stress disorder.
And then finally, there is your self-esteem. Studies have shown that gratitude reduces social comparisons. So, rather than becoming resentful towards people who have more of something (which is the major factor in reducing self-esteem), grateful people are able to appreciate themselves more as well as other peoples’ accomplishments.
So, don your cape. Cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Use your Super Power!
It’s one of the simplest ways to boost your brain, improve your health, enhance your wellbeing, lift your spirits and leave a positive impact on the world at large!
PS- If you are unsure of how to get your gratitude practice started, check out our Blog “5 Ways To Cultivate A Gratitude Practice”