The Power of Gratitude
We've been hearing more about the power of gratitude than ever before and perhaps, we need the power of gratitude more now than ever before.
But what is gratitude and why does it have power?
By definition, gratitude is the expression of thankfulness. Digging a little deeper, gratitude is also the readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.
Gratitude is considered one of our most powerful positive emotions and by taking the time to focus on the things that are good, or that we are most thankful for in our lives, we feel better. Gratitude takes some practice, and you can start simply by pausing to think through things we might daily take for granted, like breathing. Ask yourself, when is the last time you thought about being thankful for the breath you're taking?
Gratitude can absolutely, scientifically, change your brain and it perpetuates positively as you practice! When you express kindness or feel gratitude, your hypothalamus floods your brain with dopamine. Dopamine is a natural " high" that once signaled in your brain motivates you to do good (like volunteering) and expressing gratitude even more. That's right, it's a gift that keeps on giving. As you begin to focus gratefulness on the good things in your life that are important to you, your brain rewires to stay on that positive track.
Gratitude has been proven to provide better mental strength, joy and physical health. In fact, practicing gratitude has been linked to better sleep, less aggression, less aches and pains and higher self esteem and those are just the bonuses!
You can start right now, just by being grateful for the breath you are taking while reading this ...deep breath in, exhale slowly out. Now move on to being thankful for your eyes that can read or your ears that can hear... now your hands that can feel.
With practice, it will take no time to name hundreds of things you are grateful for, even if today you just start with one thing, your breath. Another way to start on a gratitude journey is to start writing down the things you are most grateful for on a daily basis, just know you'll find you will need a lot more ink in your pen as you begin to practice the habit of being grateful. It just keeps getting better as your list gets bigger.
That's the power of gratitude.
Here is a great video on The Gratitude Experiment from WellCast.