What are you grateful for in this moment? Many people gather together around thanks giving and share gratitude with each other. This creates positive chemical reactions in the body and this post will show you ways to improve your brain with gratitude.
What exactly is gratitude? It’s the appreciation of what is valuable and meaningful to you. It doesn’t take expensive objects or big things to be grateful. You can train yourself to be grateful for the little things in life.
Gratitude is one of the most important emotions a human can give or feel. This feeling is so powerful, it can be used to lift mood, heal anxiety, reduce depression and make you a happier person. What’s the science of gratitude?
The science of gratitude
Neuroscience reveals how gratitude changes the molecular structure of the brain. UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Centre say that using gratitude on a daily basis improves the grey matter in our brains functioning which in turn make us happier and healthier.
Another study at the Indiana University had 43 people who were involved with counselling for anxiety or depression. 22 of the 43 were given daily gratitude exercises and 3 months after where all reassessed and given a follow up brain scan. They found that not only where the 22 variants more grateful in life, but that had long lasting improvements from their treatment and brain scans showing similar improvements as the UCLA studies.
I could keep digging up the scientific evidence but I‘ll just leave you with one more. University of California had 2 psychologists which had 3 groups of participants write a few sentences about their days everyday. Group 1 was to write about all the things they were grateful for, Group 2 wrote about all their annoyances during the day and group 3 wrote about their day with no emphasis on any positive or negative. After 10 weeks, it was clear that Group 1 was more optimistic, happier, exercised more often and had made less visits to the doctors.
It clear to say the science proves that incorporating a daily gratitude practice which can take such little time is extremely powerful. The brain scans show clear activation in the hypothalamus area when gratitude is used which links to healthy nervous system. This s why gratitude is one of the healthiest of emotions to have.
“Cultivate an attitude of gratitude”
How to do gratitude
Now this is a meditation website, but I say to people who do not like to meditate and trying to improve their life, you must be using gratitude regularly.
Here are some of the simple techniques of gratitude.
Be grateful for waking up
On waking, try to make your first thoughts thankful ones. Even when I haven’t slept well, my kids have been waking me up all night or just I wake up tired, I try to be thankful and this changes my mood and energy very quickly.
I also say, ‘Thank You’ as my feet touch the ground as I get off my bed. ‘Thank’ for my left foot and ‘You’ for my right foot.
Being grateful for things like a roof over my family, running water to drink and clothes to wear are just some
of the basic things which I’m appreciative for on a daily wake up.
Keep a daily gratitude journal
Simply write 3 things in the morning that you are grateful and then repeat this processing the evening before you go to bed. This is by far the most profound way to affect your mood, energy, brain and sleep.
Can’t think of things to be grateful for? Count all the things in life that money can’t buy.
As mentioned above, these things can be as little or large as you like. Some of my regulars are my health, family, a cup of coffee, good night sleep or catching up with a friends.
You buy gratitude journals with inspiring quotes and decorative covers, but any old notebook will do the job.
Tell someone you appreciate them
Share gratitude with family, friends or work colleges regularly. This is an extremely powerful way to release the dopamine into the brain and rapidly increase brain function. It’s not just a feel-good experience for you but also the recipient of this emotion.
When you do this regularly, you’ll notice that many more people will be more grateful for you too.
Do you forget to be grateful? Find a small special object you can keep on you at all times. This could be a special small rock you found in a river or special key ring. Whatever the object is, tell yourself that whenever you see or touch this object, you become aware of being grateful.
Continuing to be mindful of gratitude throughout your day will increase your positivity and enforce a natural state of gratitude.
Practice mindfulness in nature
To be in a grateful state, you need to be present in the moment. Mindfulness exercises like meditation will help you to become more present and in tune with these moments of gratitude.
You can amplify this state by being mindful in nature. My favourite technique is to go hiking on a simple walking track which ends up feeling like a walking meditation. I feel grateful for so many things when I get a chance to do this.
Reduce the inner critic
You can super charge this state of gratitude with judging less. Along with a regular mindfulness practice, gratitude will automatically reduce your judgement but becoming more aware of judging others critically will reinforce this state of bliss.
Be grateful for yourself
Lastly be grateful for yourself. Spend a minute and look in the mirror and be grateful for the person you are, what you have achieved and what you will do in the future.
Once you can accept yourself in your gratitude method, you will find it so much easier to be grateful for others and find the hidden gems in life to be grateful for.
What are some of your gratitude techniques? We’d love to hear them so leave them in the comments below.