How Gratitude Changes Your Brain

The science behind why positivity is healthy

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.

Zig Ziglar

How are you doing with your November gratitude challenge so far? We are halfway through the month, so hopefully your gratitude journal has helped you begin to see all the good in your life.

I find that by writing down your positive experiences, you feel thankful more often and become better at appreciating what you have. Repeatedly focusing on something positive produces a positive ripple effect in your life. Gratitude is a natural state of bliss, and continuing to feel deep thankfulness – even for a few moments each day – can be extremely powerful. As you appreciate all that you have, you will notice your worries start to melt away.

“Something as simple as writing down three things you’re grateful for every day for 21 days in a row significantly increases your level of optimism, and it holds for the next six months,” according to Harvard researcher and author Shawn Achor.

As it turns out, being grateful does in fact, physically change your brain.

In a recent study, a team of researchers from Indiana University examined 43 participants suffering from anxiety or depression. Half of the subjects were asked to write letters to thank people in their lives, and three months later their brains were scanned.

Not only did these participants report feeling more grateful compared to the participants in the control group, but the brain scan months later showed more gratitude-related brain activity.

This research suggests that when you get in the habit of being thankful, it becomes more natural over time, and “the more practice you give your brain at feeling and expressing gratitude, the more it adapts to this mindset.”

More research-based health benefits of gratitude:

  • Decreases anxiety and depression
  • Increases feelings of optimism, joy, pleasure, enthusiasm and more
  • Increases resiliency and helps people recover from trauma
  • Boosts the immune system, while reducing blood pressure, symptoms of illness, aches and pains
  • Deepens connection and relationship satisfaction
  • Helps us get more hours of sleep nightly and feel more rested upon awakening

I admit it has taken me some time to learn to live in a state of gratitude. But I’m there now, and so much happier because of it. I encourage everyone to start saying thank you and watch how it transforms your life.

Rose Caiola
Inspired. Rewired.

 

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