It’s said that the happiest people are also the most grateful. More and more evidence is coming to light to prove that over time the habit of gratitude leads to feelings of contentment. In our western society so much emphasis is placed on what is missing, not what we already have. Over time this leads to a lack mentality and a ‘glass half empty’ type of outlook. Cultivating gratitude is arguably one of the most transformative practises that we as human beings can commit to. The benefits are overwhelming and the question of whether or not to give it a go is a no-brainer.
the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.
It Changes Your Brain Chemistry
Detailed neuroplasticity studies prove how when we offer gratitude and receive it, our brain releases dopamine and serotonin. These are two crucial neurotransmitters responsible for regulating our emotions, resulting in a ‘feel good’ effect on the body. They immediately enhance our mood and over time these neural pathways become more and more established, resulting in a new positive habit becoming ingrained.
Improves Feelings of Wellbeing
The more grateful you are the more likely you are to experience positive feelings such as contentment, happiness and peace. Let’s face it we could all do with an extra dose of uplift amidst the uncertainty of our ever changing eternal reality. People who commit to a daily, non-negotiable practise of gratitude report a significant reduction in anxiety, depression and overwhelm. When we begin to focus on what we have, rather than what we don’t have, our brain is flooded with reasons to feel content. In essence there is no space for negativity and dwelling on aspects of life which are less than perfect when an attitude of gratitude is present.
Increases Mental Strength & Resilience
A gratitude attitude is particularly effective in helping us cope with the challenges that everyday life presents. Haruki Murakami famously quoted that pain is inevitable but suffering is a choice. Being grateful for small things during times of struggle doesn’t mean that you ignore difficulty, rather it offers a window of hope and positivity rather than dwelling in despair. A gratitude practise can be an incredibly helpful tool to anchor into during times of adversity. Even spending just a few minutes each day to bring to awareness the things that you are grateful for makes a lasting positive difference. Any successful person will undoubtedly have a strong attitude of gratitude which allows them to face the peaks and troughs of life head on. Counting our blessings during times of strife allows us to emerge stronger, wiser and even more resilient.
Helps in Releasing Negative Emotions
Ultimately what we focus on becomes our reality so when we practise gratitude we are lowering the charge of any negative emotions that arise. By taking a step back to gain perspective we avoid feeding any toxic behavioural patterns such as self-sabotage, ruminating or catastrophizing. When we are able to restore emotional balance through appreciation we are no longer focusing on negativity and lack. Those who regularly practise gratitude report that they are less likely to hold onto negative emotions and can allow them to be swiftly processed and moved through the body.
One of the many positive side effects of practising gratitude is an enhanced level of self-esteem. When we are able to focus on our blessings our vibration raises and we are more likely to experience positive experiences, people and opportunities. When we are grateful we become a magnet for miracles and our capacity to receive our hearts desires increases. We naturally become more optimistic, centered, confident, connected and self assured as we ground into our prospering reality. As the saying goes ‘a grateful heart is a happy one’ and what can be more life affirming than that.
Helps to Lower Stress Hormones
Fast paced modern living means that our bodies are constantly in a state of high alert. We are so used to having to be ‘switched on’ in ‘fight-or flight’ mode that coming into the ‘rest and relax’ setting can take some time. Gratitude helps to reduce the levels of stress hormone cortisol, which when in large releases can be very problematic for the mind and body. As mentioned previously, gratitude benefits include increased levels of feel good hormones dopamine and serotonin which boost our overall state of happiness.
There are countless ways in which we can give thanks throughout each and every day. When we wake up and open the curtains, giving thanks for a new day filled with opportunities sets a positive tone. Offering gratitude for others that you come into contact with and sharing with openness, will not only brighter your day but others too. You may like to keep a gratitude jar or have a gratitude journaling practise. However you choose to show your appreciation be uplifted by the fact that a grateful heart is always a happy one.
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