No matter what self-development book I read, YouTube video I watch, seminar I attend or course I take, it seems like EVERYONE is banging on about the importance of gratitude.
Now I’ve always considered myself quite grateful. I like to think my parents done a good job raising me and I have good manners. If someone does something nice for me, I show my appreciation. I’m sure most of us do, right?
So how is this different from the all-enlightened gratitude?
Well, it is different…. and it’s not.
I love learning about spiritual practices but sometimes I just need the science and cold hard facts about something. You can’t just tell my brain “do this because I said“, I need to understand why and how it works. If you’re like me in this respect, I have the answers for you.
Gratitude has been recognized for millennia as a powerful emotion. Some cultures believe gratitude has healing powers. But over the years, science has done it’s research on good old gratitude too and has found that regularly feeling gratitude:
- Strengthens and deepens relationships
- Improves physical health
- Improves psychological health
- Enhances empathy and reduces aggression
- Improves sleep quality
- Improves self-esteem
- Increases mental strength
No too bad, eh? It almost seems too simple, but let’s look at the (simple) science.
When you feel gratitude, I’m serious, you have to feel it, not just say what you’re grateful for. When you feel gratitude, two main hormones are released, dopamine and serotonin. Paired together, these are known as the happy hormones. While dopamine regulates mood, muscle movement and contributes towards the brain’s pleasure and reward system (we get a huge dose of dopamine when we orgasm), serotonin also regulates mood but also regulates body temperature and appetite to make sure we’re at a comfortable and happy state.
In fact, scientists are calling gratitude the “natural anti-depressant” because it’s free, makes you feel great over a prolonged period of time and you’re not putting anything artificial into your system.
The more you practice gratitude, you train your brain to see more reasons to be grateful due to the repetition and the emotional charge that gratitude creates. Therefore you start to notice more blessings and amazing things, people and opportunities in your life.
Also, it’s a common misconception that if you’re grateful for where you are in life now, then that means you’re happy to settle. This is false. You can be happy and grateful for where you are in life right now but still aspire and work towards and even better future. Being grateful just means that you’re happy you’re not further behind where you currently are, like millions of people in this world are.
OK, OK, I get it Rhiannon, now, how can I apply this into my life?
Firstly, don’t judge what you feel grateful for. If it’s that cup of coffee in the morning, allow yourself to feel grateful. If it’s finding a seat on your commute after a long day at work, feel that gratitude. If it’s a quiet 90 seconds while you lock yourself in the kitchen and eat a whole chocolate bar to yourself while your kids are finally quiet, ABSOLUTELY tap into that grateful feeling.
Of course, we’d all love to be grateful for our 5 senses and the roof over heads and all these deep and incredible gifts that we take for granted on a daily basis, and of course, the goal is to feel those things too! But sometimes life can be so stressful that I’m so grateful when it’s finally time for my kids to go to bed after they’ve been awake for what feels like 348,75,93,720 hours.
Our bodies are not judging where our gratitude comes from, it just wants to feel more of it, and the more you feel, the more you’ll notice, the better you’ll feel and it is an upwards spiral from there.
When you notice something that you feel grateful for, stop for a moment longer and allow that feeling to sit in your body a moment longer than you usually would before dismissing it and getting on with your day. Bathe in the gratitude and allow it to reach every cell of your body. Allow it to intensify and multiply and leave you feeling even more grateful. Almost take a screenshot of that moment that made you feel grateful and study it for a moment or two, observe the whole situation and accept beautiful gift you have received gratefully, because you’re worth it.
When you get in bed at night, recap on all the grateful moments you experienced that day. If you take gratitude into sleep with you, that emotion enters your subconscious mind and the benefits are endless. You’ll notice that you wake in a better mood, you start your day of happier and you become luckier… just like magic.
There’s a reason why everyone talks about the power of gratitude. Simply put… because it works.
Have an attitude of gratitude
Challenge yourself to list three things you feel grateful for (remember no judgments)
Do this every every morning and every evening for 7 days.
Write them down for an extra boost of gratitude, maybe in your journal or in the notes section of your phone.
After your seven days, you can look over your list and tap into that gratitude again.