You have probably heard and seen lately that there is a significant rise in depression, anxiety and stress in the world. This is obviously due in part to the Pandemic, but it is also magnifying the stress and anxiety that many people have been feeling for some time now. The rise in frequency and use of social media, and the fact that we live in a comparison type world makes it very difficult for people to be happy and grateful for what they have regardless of their situation.
I know that it is a struggle for most right now to see and identify positive reasons to push forward and become optimistic for the future. But that is why it is so important to train your mind for gratitude. We must create daily practices for gratitude if we are going to combat the growing negativity in the world. And I truly believe that we can “train” ourselves to be more grateful and bring more happiness into our life.
I’ve learned that gratitude is a practice and a strategy to create happiness in our lives and there are many many benefits of having a gratitude practice. I want to run through a list of them just to help you be aware and remind you of all the benefits it can offer you in your life.
28 Benefits of Gratitude
- psychological well being
- enhanced positive emotions
- increased self esteem
- reduced depression and anxiety
- wider social network
- better romantic relationships
- improved friendships
- increased social support
- better family relationships
- increased optimism
- increased spirituality
- more giving
- reduced materialism
- increased gratitude
- more effective leadership
- reduced impatience
- meaning in work
- reduced turnover
- reduced stress and better mental health
- reduced depression
- lower blood pressure
- improved sleep
- increased frequency to exercise
- overall health
Science Behind Gratitude
I am not a scientist, but I have been intrigued by the amount of science that is coming out lately related to the simple practice of gratitude.
How it works: When we express gratitude and receive gratitude, our brain releases dopamine and serotonin, the two crucial neurotransmitters responsible for our emotions…basically making us feel good.
Neuroplasticity is the process by which we are training our brain to express and receive more gratitude…
Neurons that fire together, wire together.
It is not happiness that brings us Gratitude. It is Gratitude that brings us happiness. Cause and Effect. Use one as a trigger for the other…
Why is this…
The limbic system is the part of the brain that is responsible for all emotional experiences. Studies have shown that the hippocampus and amygdala, the two main sites in our brain regulating emotions and memory get activated with feelings of gratitude.
So, people who “practice gratitude” are basically training their brain to induce more positive emotions and therefore benefit from all the stuff I listed earlier.
Oprah Winfrey said, “Be thankful for what you have, you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never ever have enough”. The goal is to practice gratitude in order to have more of what you want.
Ways to Practice Gratitude
- Appreciate Yourself through positive self talk and acknowledging your wins
- Gratitude journals are a great way to structure a daily ritual for gratitude and appreciation for what you have.
- Mindfulness Practice will help you to be more aware and “present” which will assist you in becoming more grateful.
- Volunteer for Service in order to show gratitude and keep yourself in a state of gratitude.
- Express Gratitude to people you are around every day including family, friends, colleague.
- Spend quality TIME with people you care about and help to support you.
- Embrace challenges and view them as opportunities to grow and learn.
- Reward yourself and others for the small wins you accomplish in day to day life.
- Small acts of kindness and appreciation will help you to train yourself to be more grateful for the small things in life as well.
Ultimately, we can find many many ways to practice gratitude, and I believe that the more you practice gratitude the more you’ll increase your happiness in your life. It truly is a strategy to reduce stress, depression, and anxiety.
I challenge you to put a gratitude practice into your daily rituals and your life. If you do this consistently, I believe you will train your brain and they have a powerful ally for defeating that inner critic that works against you daily in life.
I hope you will join me in practicing gratitude more in your life, and I hope you will share the message of gratitude with others that you may not be aware need this message for themselves.
George Wright III