The Science of Gratitude

This is an article form Mindful, exploring the power behind gratitude.

Taking a moment to be thankful for the good things in life can help you cultivate a healthy work lifemanage stress and develop a deeper connection to people, especially in tough situations. Researchers at the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley have even commissioned a three-year project, Expanding the Science and Practice of Gratitude, to dig deeper into the health benefits behind the art of appreciation.

What are the effects of practicing gratitude?

  1. It boosts your mental health.  Those who write letters of gratitude reported significantly better mental health four weeks and 12 weeks after their writing exercise ended. While not conclusive, this finding suggests that practicing gratitude may help train the brain to be more sensitive to the experience of gratitude down the line, and this could contribute to improved mental health over time.
  2. It helps you accept change. When we are comfortable with the way things already are, it can be difficult to accept when things change—let alone feel grateful for that difference. But when we make it a habit to notice the good change brings, we can become more flexible and accepting. Here are four ways to practice gratitude when change arises. 
  3. It can relieve stress. The regions associated with gratitude are part of the neural networks that light up when we socialize and experience pleasure. These regions are also heavily connected to the parts of the brain that control basic emotion regulation, such as heart rate, and are associated with stress relief and thus pain reduction. Feeling grateful and recognizing help from others creates a more relaxed body state and allows the subsequent benefits of lowered stress to wash over us.

People who practice gratitude report:

  • Fewer physical symptoms of illness
  • More optimism
  • Greater goal attainment
  • Decreased anxiety and depression, among other health benefits.

Gratitude also positively impacts our brains. 

Practicing gratitude lights up the brain’s reward center. One study found that practicing gratitude by keeping a gratitude journal lights up the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, a key brain region associated with reward processing in the brain.

source: https://www.mindful.org

Published by Azuni Blogger

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