When we express and receive gratitude, our brain releases dopamine and serotonin. These are the two neurotransmitters that are primarily responsible for our emotions, and they make us feel good. They enhance our mood immediately, making us feel happy from the inside. Really, it’s true.
What is Gratitude?
Gratitude is the way we acknowledge the good things of life. Psychologists have defined gratitude as a positive emotional response that we perceive upon giving or receiving a benefit from someone else. Essentially, gratitude is “thankfulness.”
Research shows that the moral judgements we use that involve feelings of thanksgiving and gratefulness begin in the right anterior temporal cortex of the brain and that people who express and feel gratitude regularly possess a higher volume of grey matter in this area of the brain.
Regular Practices of Gratitude Change Your Life
- Gratitude releases toxic emotions
- Gratitude reduces pain
- Gratitude improves sleep
- Gratitude reduces stress
- Gratitude reduces grief, anxiety, and depression
Gratitude changes the neural structures in the brain, making us feel happier and more content both in the moment and long-term. And, as we practice gratitude over time and activate the right anterior cortex and reward center of the brain, gratitude eventually changes the way we see the world, ourselves, and our lives.
How to Practice Gratitude
Not only is it beneficial to give thanks for things you are momentarily thankful for – ahem – saying “thank you” and sending thank you notes when appropriate, we can commit to a daily practice of:
- Writing in a gratitude journal (consistently, first thing in the morning or right before bed)
- Reviewing our gratitude journal to recall past instances of thankfulness
- Using colors and stickers in the journal to make it more visually appealing and fun (rewarding)
- Verbally expressing gratitude to friends and family and even coworkers – tell those around you of your appreciation for them
- Recognize the little things in life that make you smile
Happy Thanksgiving! Express your gratitude all month long – and then forever. Change your attitude and change your life!