The more we learn about the human brain, the more it becomes clear: adopting an attitude of gratitude has profound effects on our minds.
The Webster definition of gratitude is an emotion of the heart. Meaning you’re excited by a favor or benefit received; a sentiment of kindness or goodwill toward a benefactor; thankfulness.
It can be hard to feel grateful with the whirlwind of political, economical, health, and environmental issues that get tossed in our faces every time we watch TV or check social media.
Combine that with the challenges we all face in our own personal lives, and it just gets harder.
Well, today we’re here to give you a little motivation towards adopting a daily gratitude practice.
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. That makes me happy just saying it.
A matter of fact, the more we learn about gratefulness ourselves, the more we realize how vital it is in cultivating happiness.
As a society, we are taught to exercise our physical bodies to stay in shape. Hit the gym to build up 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.
In addition, 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.
In conclusion, the important thing is to get into the habit of practicing an attitude of gratitude every day. Trust us, your brain will thank you!
We recommend trying out different sets of gratitude exercises to see which ones you’re willing to incorporate into your life. To learn 12 different exercises, click here.