Research shows that gratitude alters your brain in a number of beneficial ways —
Gratitude Examples include triggering release of mood-regulating neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine and oxytocin; inhibiting the stress hormone cortisol; and stimulating your hypothalamus (a brain area involved in the regulation of stress) and your ventral tegmental area (part of your brain’s reward circuitry that produces pleasurable feelings)7
Increases happiness and life satisfaction
Lowers stress and emotional distress
- Improves emotional resiliency
- Reduces symptoms of depression
- Reduces pain
- Lowers inflammation by inhibiting inflammatory cytokines
- Lowers blood sugar
- Improves immune function
- Lowers blood pressure
- Improves heart health,reducing the likelihood of sudden death in patients with congestive heart failure and coronary artery disease
- Lowers risk for heart disease
- Improves general health by encouraging self-care
- Improves sleep
- Improves interpersonal relationships
- Boosts productivity Reduces materialism and increases generosity, both of which can increase happiness and life satisfaction
Gratitude Defined by Harvard Medical School:
“Gratitude is a thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible. With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives.
In the process, people usually recognize that the source of that goodness lies at least partially outside themselves. As a result, gratitude also helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals — whether to other people, nature, or a higher power.”
According to one study, gratitude is “uniquely important to psychological well-being.” In teenagers, gratitude has been found to correlate with “positive affect, global and domain specific life satisfaction, optimism, social support and prosocial behavior.” It’s even been suggested that gratitude practice and cultivation can be used as a psychotherapeutic intervention with positive effect
Source & Reference support: Dr. Mercola
Finding What Works
As psychologist Laurie Santos, who teaches the science of happiness at Yale, told NPR,
"It's one of the practices that really wins out from the field of positive psychology, because it takes very little time, and the benefits are so powerful."
As noted by Harvard,29 there are many ways to feel and express gratitude, and all are equally valid. You can think back to positive memories, for example, applying gratitude for past blessings.
Feeling and expressing gratitude in the present helps remind you to not take good fortune for granted. Applied to the future, it becomes an expression of hope and optimism that everything will work out for the best, even if you cannot see the road ahead.
For best results, the key is to find a method that feels meaningful to you.
For some, writing a gratitude list first thing in the morning might do the trick. For others, quietly contemplating what you’re grateful for — past, present or future — at the end of each day works better.
One particularly potent strategy is to write a letter of gratitude to someone whom you’ve not properly thanked for their kindness, and to hand deliver the letter to them. In one study,doing this resulted in an immediate and significant increase in happiness score that lasted for an entire month
Source & Reference support: Dr. Mercola.