The Effects of Gratitude On Your Brain

In honor of Thank You Thursday

There’s no denying that it’s human nature to focus on the negative. Did you know our brain handles positive and negative information in different hemispheres? Negative emotions make us think more, which causes us to ruminate and obsess over what’s wrong. This also explains why criticism or bad feedback seems to have a longer lasting impact on us compared to when something positive happens.

It’s easy to be happy when our lives are going well. It’s during the challenging times that our mental strength is tested. Over the years, and with much practice, I’ve found the most effective way to combat negative thinking is with gratitude.

In honor of Thank You Thursday, I wanted to focus on the effects of gratitude on our mental health.

Never lose sight of all the good in your life

What are you grateful for? Try to ask yourself this question every morning when you wake up. Even if it’s something as simple as your warm cup of coffee, you can find something small to appreciate. Gratitude is a practice we need to engage in daily.

“Gratitude helps people refocus on what they have instead of what they lack,” according to Dr Michael Craig Miller of Harvard Medical School. “By acknowledging the goodness in their lives, expressing gratitude often helps people recognize that the source of that goodness lies at least partially outside themselves. This can connect them to something larger—other people, nature, or a higher power.”

The mental health benefits

There are numerous studies to support the strong connection between gratitude and mental health. Along with reducing anxiety and depression, gratitude boosts feelings of optimism, joy, pleasure, enthusiasm and more.

A new brain imaging study led by Prathik Kini, researcher at Indiana University, shows that “practicing gratitude seems to kick off a healthful, self-perpetuating cycle in your brain—counting your blessing now makes it easier to notice and count them later. And the more good you see in your life, the happier and more successful you’re likely to be.”

Being grateful offers so many benefits to our lives, which means we need to stop taking gratitude for granted. Cultivating a grateful mindset will help you live in the moment, stay focused on what truly matters and create space for new thoughts and a new life to come.

Rose Caiola
Inspired. Rewired.

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