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An Attitude of Gratitude

One definition of gratitude is “An affirmation of good things and benefits we have received and the recognition that the source is outside ourselves”.

Over the years, there has been much debate on the benefits of gratitude, and more recently, the scientifically validated benefits of gratitude have been more clearly understood.

Many of these studies are demonstrating how activities like gratitude journaling can increase one’s happiness. Other research shows that even inflammation in one’s body can decrease and that a person can improve their overall health and well-being by adopting this attitude of gratitude.

Some proven benefits for individuals who practice gratitude are:

  • Increased happiness and positive mood
  • More satisfaction with life
  • Less likely to experience burnout
  • Better physical health
  • Better sleep
  • Less fatigue
  • Lower levels of cellular inflammation
  • Greater resiliency
  • Encourages the development of patience, humility, and wisdom

Every time a person expresses or receives gratitude, dopamine is released in the brain. Dopamine, a neurotransmitter, is produced in the areas of the brain that have to do with movement, speech, and reward (Carter, 2009). When a person expresses or receives gratitude, dopamine is released, thus connecting that behaviour and feeling good. The more a person practises gratitude, the more often dopamine is released.

Here are 7 ways we can increase gratitude in our life:

  1. Journal about things, people, or situations for which you are grateful.
  2. Write a gratitude letter to someone for whom you are thankful. Consider sending it or giving it to them in person.
  3. Do the “Count Your Blessings” exercise (at the end of the day, write down three things for which you were grateful)
  4. Practise saying “thank you” in a real and meaningful way. Be specific.
  5. Write thank-you notes. Some might say this is a lost art.
  6. Create visual reminders to practise gratitude—sticky notes on your computer or desk.
  7. Be a grateful gazer. Be on the lookout for opportunities to feel grateful.

What activities will you commit to implementing so that you can realise the health benefits of gratitude and see your health and life become more positive and uplifted?