Let’s explore why you should start a gratitude practice.
We’ve all heard the word before, but what does it mean to be grateful?
Webster defines gratitude as “an emotion of the heart, excited by a favor or benefit received; a sentiment of kindness; thankfulness.”
Essentially, gratitude is recognizing and being thankful for all of the things you have in your life.
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.
According to the UCLA Research Center, “regularly expressing gratitude literally changes the molecular structure of the brain, keeps the gray matter functioning, and makes us healthier and happier.”
Also, studies have shown that gratitude exercises are a powerful antidepressant. This same study shows practicing gratitude actually activates new neural pathways linked to dopamine and serotonin production.
Additional research suggests that gratitude can improve sleep, romantic relationships, and immune function.
“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. It holds for the next six months. The research is amazing,” says Harvard researcher and author of Before Happiness, Shawn Acor.
Many of us recognize that we have much to be thankful for, but we still get bogged down with negativity.
That’s because our brains are hardwired to recognize and dwell on negative experiences. But we can change that!
Training our minds to view things in a positive way begins with a gratitude practice.
Start your gratitude journey with the exercise below!