In this post, we’ll unpack all you need to know about Gratitude, defining exactly what it is, how it works in the brain, why it is a skill that can be developed, the benefits, different ways we can express it and more.
What Is Gratitude?
Gratitude stems from the Latin word gratus which means “pleasing” or “thankful” and refers to the feeling of appreciation for what one has ― whether tangible or intangible. It is a recognition of value independent of monetary worth.
However, it is not simply an emotional response ― it is also a choice that we make and is a key component of living a happier, healthier, more abundant and more fulfilling life.
“Gratitude is the pre-requisite for abundance.”
Hardwired For Negativity
As humans, we are hardwired to focus on negative experiences. For our ancient ancestors, those that were more attuned to threats instead of opportunities were more likely to survive and reproduce.
While we live in Modern Age times, we still bear Stone Age minds. Fortunately, we can rewire the brain and make it more sensitive to positive experiences and one way we can do this is by consciously focusing on Gratitude.
“The secret to getting what you don’t have is to be grateful for what you do have.”
Gratitude & The Brain
We get what we focus on. When we focus on what we can be grateful for, we activate a part of the brain known as the the Reticular Activating System which begins to look for things that we can be grateful for.
Additionally, research shows that when we genuinely express Gratitude, the brain releases dopamine and serotonin (two pleasure hormones). Therefore, we can harness the power of Gratitude to instantly shift our energy and transform our internal state.
Cultivate An Attitude Of Gratitude
Just like anything, Gratitude is a skill that can be developed and mastered with practice.
The more we practice gratitude, the more we strengthen the brain’s neural circuits associated with Gratitude, the more habitual it will become and therefore the easier it will be to find more things to be grateful for.
The Power Of Appreciation
What’s wrong is always available, but so is what’s right. It is impossible to be fearful and grateful at the same time. When we shift our focus from what is wrong to what is right, we simultaneously shift our emotional state and ultimately how we perceive, experience and interact with the world around us.
It’s also important to recognise that having an attitude of Gratitude isn’t about repressing our emotions or being in denial when things go against us. Having an attitude of Gratitude is about making a conscious decision to live in a state of appreciation and abundance.
“What you appreciate, appreciates.” ― Lynne Twist
10 Benefits Of Gratitude
The power of Gratitude extends far beyond what we may imagine. Among just some of its benefits, scientific studies have found that Gratitude:
- Improves mental, emotional and physical health.
- Improves relationships.
- Improves self-esteem.
- Improves sleep.
- Increases ability to achieve goals.
- Increases determination.
- Increases happiness.
- Increases optimism.
- Reduces aches and pains.
- Reduces blood pressure.
Not only does it produce all of these benefits, but it doesn’t cost us a penny, it is available to everyone and it is accessible wherever and whenever.
Gratitude is the expression of appreciation for what one has and is the recognition of value that is independent of monetary worth.
Studies show that when in a state of Gratitude, profound changes occurs in the brain which elicit a range of associated with mental, emotional and physical health.
When we experience Gratitude, we instantly shift our emotional state and thus how we perceive, experience and interact with the world around us. Thus, it is key to living a happier, healthier, more abundant and more fulfilling life.