Science of Gratitude

We live in a world where all we want is more. We are always chasing our next goal, more happiness, a secure job, a perfect family, and more and more. We seek a never-ending pursuit of happiness in materialistic things and forget to be grateful for what we already have. It is quite rare for us to spare a minute and be thankful for all the bounties of life. Every day we wake up in the morning to live another day, but how often are we grateful for that? 

Gratitude is the healthiest and most powerful human emotion. In its simplest form, gratitude refers to a state of appreciation and gratefulness. Gratitude turns what we have into enough and gives us more to be grateful for. Gratitude is one of the most overlooked tools that does not take any time, and it certainly doesn’t cost a penny. We all have bad days and bad moments, but gratitude turns those gloomy days into a brighter one. It allows you to look at things differently, to see positivity in everything, with a new perspective. Gratitude is the surest pathway to wellness and success, but how? (1)

Neuroscience of gratitude

Gratitude lets us focus on the positive aspect of our life, and that acts as a natural antidepressant. Many studies over the past decade have found a link between positive thoughts and the activation of certain neurotransmitters in the brains. Two of those neurotransmitters are serotonin and dopamine, also known as happy chemicals of the brain, as they promote feelings of contentment and happiness. When we focus on the good, it activates these neurotransmitters, which ultimately improves overall well being. Gratitude increases neuronal density and leads to more powerful emotional intelligence. Developing a new perspective towards everything evolves our brains. When you start to notice certain things with a positive mind and gratitude, your brain starts noticing many other similar things reminding you to be grateful again and again.  

How gratitude changes our life?

One of the things that has the biggest positive effect on one’s life is the power of gratitude. We always take the simplest of things for granted, for example, every breath we take, the roof above our head, food on our tables, our ability to walk, run, see, smell, and much more. All of these are blessings many are not blessed with, yet we take them for granted. However, gratitude can change our lives because it makes us appreciate all the little things we have rather than what we don’t have. Gratitude improves the quality of life by improving one’s psychological and physical health. Being grateful strengthens the faith, and it instills a positive outlook towards everything. All these changes collectively unshackle the toxicity in our lives and change our life for the better. Gratitude enriches one’s life. (2)

What are the benefits of gratitude?

Sometimes in life, we just keep on going through day by day, but we don’t stop and see the beauty of the day. Gratitude makes us appreciate our blessings and benefits us in so many miraculous ways. Here are a few of them: (3)

  1. Gratitude improves physical and psychological health
  2. Enhances empathy and positive emotions
  3. Improves social relationships
  4. Makes us more optimistic and positive
  5. Gratitude helps us value our blessings
  6. Increases self-esteem
  7. Gratitude changes our perspective towards everything for better
  8. It creates peace within chaos
  9. Increases mental strength and reduces stress
  10. Gratitude improves sleep quality

What are the ways to cultivate gratitude?

Too often we find ourselves caught up in stressful and difficult times of our lives, and it is quite easy for us to focus only on negativity but gratitude tells us to see positivity in everything. There are plenty of ways to practice gratitude. (4)

  1. Start with writing a gratitude journal.

Make it a habit to write daily about things or moments you are grateful for. Write about things whether small or big that made you happy in the last 24 hours. 

  1.  Meditate

Gratitude meditation simply involves focusing on things we are grateful for in life. It is a very easy practice and here is how to do it:

  • Find a comfortable place to sit
  • Close your eyes and breathe deeply
  • Think of 3 or more things you are thankful for
  • Think of 3 or more people you are thankful for
  • Smile, breathe and go about your day
  1. Write a thankyou note.

You can make yourself happy and improve your relationship with other people by telling them how grateful you are to have them in your life. Writing a thank you note to people will add positivity to your life, and most of all, it can make someone’s day!

  1. Stop and notice good in your surroundings.

 Live for the little things in life. Stop and notice good in your surroundings. 

There is always something to be grateful for, and gratitude turns what we have into enough and more. 

References

  1. Norville D. Thank You Power: Making the Science of Gratitude Work for You. Thomas Nelson; 2008 Oct 7.
  2. Emmons RA, McCullough ME, editors. The psychology of gratitude. Oxford University Press; 2004 Feb 26.
  3. Caputo A. The relationship between gratitude and loneliness: The potential benefits of gratitude for promoting social bonds. Europe’s Journal of Psychology. 2015 May;11(2):323.
  4. Doverspike WF. HOW TO CULTIVATE GRATITUDE: A KEY TO ABUNDANT LIVING.