How Does Gratitude Change The Brain
Everyone wants happiness. A stable job, a happy family, financial stability, and amazing social life! But if you take a closer look, this indefinite pursuit for happiness is nothing but a mirage. How often do we spare a moment to thank for what you already have at that very instant? Maybe the pleasure that we seek everywhere else lies within feeling and expressing gratitude.
What is Gratitude?
Gratitude is a strong powerful human emotion and a stable trait. The word “Gratitude”, came from the Latin word ‘gratia’, which means gratefulness or thankfulness.
In its simplest form gratitude is an awareness of all the good things that are happening in your life. You can be grateful to someone or just experience a thankful moment.
Many obstacles might limit the feeling and expression of gratitude. Comparing yourself to others, constant focus on life goals, being lost in the past or the fear of being mocked, all can come in the way of gratitude.
If you can overcome these issues, you will start experiencing a warm sense of thankfulness that will make feel you calm, fulfilled, and fearless than ever before.
How Does Gratitude Change the Brain?
Gratitude has long been celebrated throughout philosophy and religion. Some of the recent studies have found significant effects of gratitude on our brain. According to a neurological experiment conducted by the University of California, the emotion of gratitude encourages a positive attitude in our brain and a feeling of relief from stressors.
In another research, The Mindfulness Awareness Research Center has found that when people feel gratitude, the neural structures in the brain changes and makes us feel more satisfied and content. Feeling grateful to someone or something and appreciating others triggers the ‘good’ hormones in our brain and regulates the effective functioning of the immune system.
Practicing gratitude help increase neuron density in the brain which leads to greater sense of fulfilment and emotional intelligence. The more you practice gratitude, your brain’s neural circuits will get stronger, making it easier for you to focus on the feelings of gratefulness. In simple words, the moment you start to feel thankful for the things you already have, your brain becomes better at identifying similar things you have to be grateful for.
For example, if you consciously notice how beautiful the summer blooms are, you will be more likely to notice the flowers and feel gratitude again. Even though the flowers were always there, the gratitude focus works like a signal to your brain to observe their beauty.
Benefits of Gratitude
Apart from enhancing self-love and compassion, gratitude has a significant impact on body functions and psychological conditions,
Such as —
- Gratitude releases toxic emotions
- Reduces subjective feeling of pain symptoms by regulating the level of dopamine
- Improves sleep quality
- Boosts the immune system
- Aids in stress regulation
- increases relationship satisfaction
- Reduces anxiety and depression
- Stimulates the Brain’s Reward System
- Improve overall physical and mental wellbeing with time
The benefits of gratitude can never be fully realized until you practice gratitude. So try to start practicing gratitude by saying simple words of love and praise to the people around you. It will not only make others feel good, but you will also feel a lot better about yourself. You can also cultivate gratitude by journaling, practicing meditation, or simply paying attention to the little things in life that bring you happiness. Upon practicing gratitude regularly, gratitude will bring positive long-term effects to your mental health and well-being