Have you ever tried a gratitude challenge? I double dog dare you to try it starting today! Why? Well, simply put, gratitude changes the make- up of our minds. Being grateful for what we have and thinking of the POSITIVE events of our day helps us be healthier and happier! This is not an exaggeration at all. Gratitude affects so many aspects of our physiology- it’s crazy! When we practice seeing the good in our lives and the good in the people around us, we slowly train our minds to think more positively. This puts us on the fast track to brighter days, my friends! It’s a win win! You can’t go wrong with being grateful.
What happens in our Brain?
According to a study by the National Institute of Health (NIH), referenced in an article on Psychology Today, our brain activity literally changes when we think of the things we are grateful for! While study participants did their best to think gratefully, researchers noticed a very specific part of the brain light up – the hypothalamus. This is super revealing because the hypothalamus controls a ton of our bodily functions, including eating, sleeping, drinking, metabolism, and stress levels.
This shows why being grateful affects us so much physically AND psychologically! It causes us to exercise better, eat better, sleep better and have lower stress levels! It combats depression and feelings of negativity and increases our happiness! How could you not want to try that?!
How Does Gratitude Train Our Brain?
When we portray feelings of gratitude, our brain releases dopamine, which is the “happy hormone”, which means whenever we feel grateful, we feel good! This causes us to want to be grateful more and more because every time we send out “happy thoughts”, our body rewards us for it! If we take the time to focus on what we are grateful for, what makes us feel good throughout the day, and the general positive aspects of life, we can literally train ourselves to be happier little by little. This is why gratitude is so important!
Another Case Study
I LOVE this video by Soul Pancake, which shows the process of their gratitude experiment. They had subjects come in and answer a simple survey about their current level of gratitude. Then, they asked them to think of someone they really admire and write down all the reasons they admire that person in a hand written letter. What they subjects didn’t know is that after writing the letter, they had to CALL the person and read the letter to them.
And you know what? This made both the subject and the letter recipient AMAZINGLY happy! In fact, my brother tried this experiment and wrote a letter to ME. It was one of the most special moments I have ever had with him, something I will never forget because my brother told me things he loved about me that I had never known before. It felt so good to be on the receiving end of such love! We both felt immense levels of gratitude and happiness.
As I’m sure you can guess, at the end of the Soul Pancake study, the subjects took another survey after their phone call, where they indicated increased happiness levels from showing gratitude to the people they love.
Want to Try it?
Here are some Ideas for you to practice your gratitude and increase your happiness day by day! Please feel free to download this free list!