Gratitude

Research has found that people who regularly practice gratitude report higher levels of positive emotions, including more joy, pleasure, happiness, and optimism.

So what does gratitude actually do? The feeling of gratitude has been shown to activate brain regions associated with the neurotransmitter dopamine.

Dopamine is released and gives us that feeling of reward or pleasure. This makes us want to do things over and over. E.g. doing a excellent job at work and your boss gives you a gift card for your hard work. Dopamine kicks in and makes you want to repeat the action that got you a reward, but dopamine has powerful effects on movement, hunger, sleep and memory not just motivation.

Simple ways to put this into practice: 

+ First thing in the morning write down 3 things you’re grateful for before you start your day.

+ Make a mental thank you to the person that let you pull in front of them in your car, be thankful that the customer in front of you had the correct change at the cafe and made the line go quicker for you.

+ Tip someone in a service job.

+ Call someone who is enduring a tough time and listen for as long as they’d like.

+ Give genuine compliments.

“So are you saying all I have to do is say thank you or be grateful for things in my life and I will feel better?”  YES! It’s that easy.

The word “gratitude” has a number of different meanings, depending on the context. However, a practical clinical definition is as follows—gratitude is the appreciation of what is valuable and meaningful to oneself; it is a general state of thankfulness and/or appreciation. The majority of studies indicate that there is an association between gratitude and a sense of overall well-being.

If you need one more reason to be thankful, here it is. More and more researchers are finding that gratitude doesn’t just make you feel like a better person, it’s actually good for your health.

“Clinical trials indicate that the practice of gratitude can have dramatic and lasting effects in a person’s life,” said Robert A. Emmons, professor of psychology at UC Davis. “It can lower blood pressure, improve immune function and facilitate more efficient sleep.”

People who keep a gratitude journal have a reduced dietary intake — as much as 25 percent lower. Stress hormones like cortisol are 23 percent lower in grateful people. And having a daily gratitude practice could actually reduce the effects of ageing to the brain, Emmons says.

“Gratitude works because, as a way of perceiving and interpreting life, it recruits other positive emotions that have direct physical benefits, most likely through the immune system or endocrine system.”

Research shows that when we think about what we appreciate, the parasympathetic or calming part of the nervous system is triggered and that can have protective benefits on the body, including decreasing cortisol levels and perhaps increasing oxytocin, the bonding hormone involved in relationships that make us feel so good.

But if you’re still not feeling the love, experts say gratitude is something you can learn, so start to incorporate this into your life to feel a greater sense of calmness today.

Nicole
Nicole McDermott
nic@thechieflife.com

I am passionate about working with people on a holistic level to balance hormones, improve mood, manage weight all whilst educating people on the benefits of a balanced whole foods diet. Follow more great advice from Nic here.