The more we learn about the human brain, the more it becomes clear: the simple act of being grateful has profound effects on our minds. 

The Webster definition of gratitude is an emotion of the heart, excited by a favor or benefit received; a sentiment of kindness or goodwill toward a benefactor; thankfulness.

According to the UCLA Mindfulness Awareness Research Center, “regularly expressing gratitude literally changes the molecular structure of the brain, keeps the gray matter functioning, and makes us healthier and happier.”

Studies have shown that gratitude exercises are a powerful antidepressant. This same study shows practicing gratitude builds up neurocircuits over time and actually activates new neural pathways linked to dopamine and serotonin production. 

Additional research suggests that gratitude can improve sleep, romantic relationships, immune function, and boost happiness.

The more we learn about gratefulness ourselves, the more we realize how vital it is in the pursuit of happiness. 

As a society we are taught to exercise our physical bodies to stay in shape. Hit the gym, build up your muscle; it’s an obvious formula. 

What’s not so obvious is exercising our minds. There are very simple exercises we can complete every day that have profound benefits on our brains.

Even though the science-backed benefits are clear, society just hasn’t caught up yet. This will change in time, but we encourage you to jump in, ahead of the curve. 

Shawn Achor, Harvard affiliate and national bestselling author suggests starting by listing 3 things you are grateful for every day for 21 days in a row.  

You can always stack this exercise with another habit: Arianna Huffington, founder of Huffington Post, and Thrive Global suggests thinking of three things you are grateful for every time you brush your teeth. 

However you choose to do it, the important thing is to get into the habit of practicing gratitude every day. Trust us, your brain will thank you!

Below are some of the gratitude lists that our readers (that’s you amazing people) sent into us this week:

Watson, Elmira, NY

I’m thankful for my quad for supplying me with power and speed.

I’m thankful for Kyle for putting a roof over my head.

I’m thankful for my buddy Vasco for giving me a job.

I’m thankful for my mother for doing such a good job raising me.

I’m thankful Dartmouth Football for introducing me to my friends.

I’m thankful for my van in high school and all the good times it gave us.

I’m thankful for America for giving me the freedom to ride my quad and go fishing everyday.

Tyler, Boston, MA

Fresh air and sunshine
Clean water sources
My support system that has been woven over the years. Friends, family, my lady, the clams. Near and far. Old and new.
A physical vessel that is for the majority fully functioning and able to move when and how I want it to.
The power of our breath
Exploring new forms of creativity
Silver lining in the current world state that has allowing myself and many others the much over due opportunity to SLOW DOWN.

Kelli, San Diego, CA

1. My wonderful partner in life because he’s incredibly supportive, driven, sweet, funny and loves our pets with all his heart even when they’re doing things like peeing in the house or eating garbage 

2. My pets because they bring joy to every day and teach us how to love unconditionally 

3. My amazing friends for always being around to lend an ear and make me laugh until I can’t breathe 

4. Dungeons and dragons because it resparked in me a creative drive I haven’t felt in years, as well as bringing me into an incredible community and forging new friendships 

5. Zoos and aquariums for their ongoing drive to protect our natural world and the creatures who live in it

6. Yoga for teaching me that if I can breathe through it, it will pass and every moment is temporary

7. Video games, for bringing in to the world the incredible stories, relationships and pure joy of visual creators 

8. Books, for being my best friend and favorite escape throughout my entire life 

9. Art and my ability to create, as it has been a source of joy and sometimes income throughout my life 

10. Last but most importantly, I’m thankful for all of the people fighting to keep us safe in the world today, from grocery store workers to doctors to cleaning crews, I know a thank you isn’t enough and you deserve so much more, but thank you. (I’m also thankful for the people fighting to get these workers the things they need)

Ben, Boston, MA
Ocean Vegetation
Land Vegetation
Clean accessible water
Cannabis sativa
Science (as a whole…. all of it)
Generally good health, or the availability of resources to assist me back to equilibrium
Precipitation in general, but especially the frozen kind
Air conditioning
The ability to work remotely

With mad love,