The science behind the power of gratitude and how to incorporate it in your life starting today
Can the key to happiness be found in something as simple as saying Thank-you? Turns out, yes! It is said that we as humans can get in a state called the hedonic treadmill. This is the tendency to consistently be in the same level of happiness despite any major positive or negative shifts. What this means is that we end up taking things for granted and ignoring what makes us happy. It may sound super airy-fairy but I firmly believe that gratitude has been more effective than medication in my journey of mental health and well-being. In fact, research shows that the simple act observing what we are grateful for actually rewires our brains. Similar to antidepressants, it kickstarts the production of dopamine and serotonin. These feel-good neurotransmitters activate the joyful centre of our brains which, in turn, increases happiness and contentment.
Despite the importance and proof of increased joy by adding this to our daily routine, I found it challenging at first. This is why it is so important for me to share this with you today. Like drugs, I believe struggle and despair can sometimes be addictive. I know that for me, there were times when being depressed felt easier than being happy. It often felt like being happy required too much work which led to feeling overwhelmed and anxious. A vicious circle that I was able to finally break when I started saying thank-you more. Through the habit of being grateful for what I already have, I made space for more things to enter my life to be grateful for.
The best part of all this for me has been discovering that the magic behind gratitude does not end with increased happiness and decreased depression. There are several side effects, or miracles rather, that will be so addictive and enchanting, it becomes habitual rather instantly, such as:
- Increased resilience
- Lower blood pressure
- Decreased chronic pain
- Increased energy
- Higher self-esteem
- Better sleep
- Longer life
I believe that gratitude in itself is the highest expression of faith. Yes, the science is there to back it up but simply put, gratitude draws us closer to source and gives gasoline to our ability to manifest. When we are grateful, we are telling the universe that everything is working out and more things can enter our lives. This means being grateful for the things that you don’t have. Since every action has an opposite and equal reaction, we attract more to be grateful for. I would even encourage you to go one step closer and be grateful for the things that may not seem so great. I personally believe that there are no coincidences in life and that everything happens for a reason. When we appreciate the not so great things in addition to the beauty in our lives, we are surrendering and trusting that it is all leading us to our higher selves.
As said by an American Author, John C Maxwell “You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret to your success is found in your daily routine.” So let’s go over the simple ways to add gratitude to your life today.
For me, I started with journaling
Carry a gratitude rock
If you have watched the secret, you may remember the gratitude rock as explained by Business and Family Coach, Lee Brower. The idea is that he kept a rock in his pocket every day and before retiring for bed each night, he would empty his pocket and the rock reminded him to take a quick mental note of what he was grateful for that day. Now, it does have to be rock, you can carry anything with you that you will interact with
No matter what your daily gratitude list includes, you can always trace it back to the person responsible for bringing this into your life. Maybe it’s the person who gave you a physical gift or just thw way a situation turned out thanks to the way someone handled things. For me, this is often my incredible partner who is always supportive during times of anxiety and depression. So tell them! Call, write a letter, send a text or better yet, invite them to dinner and tell them in person. I guarantee that sharing your appreciation will make their day. It will put them in a better mood and ripple as they interact with others throughout their day, eventually changing lives.
Smiling and acknowledging people you interact with throughout the day is the easiest way to express gratitude. It not only ignites happiness, hope and positivity within yourself but to everyone who sees it. For only one day, I challenge you to smile to everyone you see and you will understand just how much impact this has.
When you smile, you are sending a message to those around you that you are accepted, you are welcome and all is well.
Kaitlin Roig-DeBellis. “The Power of a Smile.” HuffPost, 14 May 2014)
As always, I’m including meditation. I don’t think I need to explain the benefits and rewards this adds to our well being. You have all heard it a million times, if not more. Meditation is instrumental in all aspects of well being. If you are finding it difficult to find time to write your gratitude down, add an extra minute to the end of your meditation session to say, out loud, three things that you are grateful for. You won’t regret it.
So there you have it, the power of gratitude has to change your life, the science behind it and easy ways you can start adding it to your routine today to make you happier, more positive and healthy. Being happy takes work but being grateful is so fun, that it’s actually really easy. Even taking the time to be grateful for the not so great things clears our minds and makes space for more good things to enter our lives. List your thank yous, create symbols to remind yourself, spread your gratitude towards others and they will want to spend more time with you and simply smile and mediate to implement this practice in your daily life and notice how your life changes.
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Love and light,