The Benefits, Cause and Effects of Gratitude

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child laying in autumn leaves with text stating GRATITUDE turns what we have into enough

In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.

Berkeley Good Science Center states in article BY JOSHUA BROWN, JOEL WONG: “Recent evidence suggests that a promising approach is to complement psychological counseling with additional activities that are not too taxing for clients, but yield high results. In our own research, we have zeroed in on one such activity: the practice of gratitude. New research is starting to explore how gratitude works to improve our mental health.

Indeed, many studies over the past decade have found that people who consciously count their blessings tend to be happier and less depressed.”

What are 6 Benefits of Gratitude?

1. Improved sleep; gratitude reduces the time required to fall asleep, increases sleep duration, and improves sleep quality.
2. Increases your social capital; gratitude makes us nicer and more trusting, which can help foster or deepen strong relationships.
3. Strengthens your immune system; gratitude has been shown to result in an increase in levels of immunoglobulin A, which is the body’s first line of defense against viruses.
4. Lowers stress levels; gratitude activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which reduces your stress levels.
5. Improves decision making; positive emotions can broaden our minds, resulting in more ideas.
6. Fewer aches and pains; grateful people can have greater pain tolerance, since gratitude has analgesic effects.

When you cultivate gratitude, you’re able to feel true joy and contentment, no matter what you have or don’t have in your life. The Law of Attraction states that like attracts like, when you’re grateful for what you already have, you will naturally attract more for which you can be grateful.

When expressing gratitude for what’s good in life or showing gratitude to someone who has helped us at work, the neural circuitry in our brain stem releases dopamine and serotonin.

Dopamine is a type of neurotransmitter. Your body makes it, and your nervous system uses it to send messages between nerve cells. That’s why it’s sometimes called a chemical messenger. Dopamine plays a role in how we feel pleasure. Dopamine makes us feel good!

Also, when we experience gratitude, the brain releases hormones linked with social behavior. Dr. Susan Ferguson says when humans feel gratitude, the brain produces oxytocin, a hormone important to bonding.

Serotonin is a chemical nerve cells produce. It sends signals between your nerve cells. Serotonin is found mostly in the digestive system, although it’s also in blood platelets and throughout the central nervous system. Serotonin is made from the essential amino acid tryptophan. It is a neurotransmitter that mediated satisfaction, happiness and optimism.

Oxytocin is typically linked to warm, fuzzy feelings and shown in some research to lower stress and anxiety. Oxytocin has the power to regulate our emotional responses and pro-social behaviors, including trust, empathy, gazing, positive memories, processing of bonding cues, and positive communication.

More specifically, we found that when people who are generally more grateful gave more money to a cause, they showed greater neural sensitivity in the medial prefrontal cortex, a brain area associated with learning and decision making.

“Gratitude is associated with a personal benefit that was not intentionally sought after, deserved, or earned but rather because of the good intentions of another person” .

(Emmons & McCullough, 2004)

While gratitude is not a cure for serious mental health issues like depression or anxiety, it does offer a mood boost for many people. It’s harder to focus on negative or toxic emotions when you’re filled with gratitude.

Thankfulness shifts your attention to the positive people, events, and experiences in your life.

Our genes and our brains aren’t the end of the story; certain personality factors can also act as barriers to gratitude. In particular, envy, materialism, narcissism, and cynicism can be thought of as “thieves of thankfulness.”

What are the 3 Parts of Gratitude?

1. Feeling grateful for the good things done for you in your life.
2. Expressing your gratitude to the people who have made your life better.
3. Adopting new behaviors as a result of interacting with those who have helped you.

Narcissistic personality disorder is defined as a mental illness, and is one of several types of personality disorders in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for excessive attention and admiration. They experience a lack of empathy for others creating difficult relationships; all issues that cause a disability for feeling true gratitude. A sense of entitlement over-rides any ability to experience true thankfulness, regardless of what is done for them.

Narcissists do not just feel no gratitude, they even tamper with their memories. It’s hard to refuse to feel gratitude when you are clear to yourself that someone has done something for you. But if you can somehow tamper with that, you can feel no gratitude with a ‘clear conscience’. So, educate yourself and learn how to work within their parameters or void, if expecting any thanks from one suffering NPD.

Gratitude in all Forms is Associated with Happiness

Whether we say ‘thank you’ to someone or receive the same from others, the feeling it brings is that of pure satisfaction and encouragement. Expressions of gratitude help in building and sustaining long term relationships, deal with adversities and bounce back from them with strength and motivation.

In essence, gratitude is the state of being thankful. When you practice offering thanks every day, even for things that may appear insignificant, you start looking at life as and adventure, as well as an opportunity to grow and learn. This way of perceiving life leads to healing and inner peace, even when there’s external chaos all around you.

Spiritual Gratitude

Spiritually, being grateful is equivalent to feeling the presence of the Divine in our lives. It is the same as being in a state of bliss. It’s when our ego is dissatisfied that we are ungrateful. Gratitude is arguably the spiritual discipline we think we need to understand best. It has the power to heal, create, manifest, love, and attract. It has the power to change your perspective, open your heart, envision new solutions, change how you are in relationships, or simply to re-energize and lift your mood.

thank you wordle in many languages

Practicing gratitude regularly allows you to master your own mind, which is the only thing you can really control your own emotions, cognitions, and reactions anyway. Life is short; just say Thank You!

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