your brain on gratitude

Gratitude has one of the strongest links to mental health and satisfaction with life of any personality trait—more so than even optimism, hope, or compassion. Grateful people experience higher levels of positive emotions such as joy, enthusiasm, love, happiness, and optimism, and gratitude as a discipline protects us from the destructive impulses of envy, resentment, greed, and bitterness. People who experience gratitude can cope more effectively with everyday stress, show increased resilience in the face of trauma-induced stress, recover more quickly from illness, and enjoy more robust physical health. 


Why Gratitude Is Good

By Robert Emmons | November 16, 2010 

We’ve studied more than one thousand people, from ages eight to 80, and found that people who practice gratitude consistently report a host of benefits:

•    Stronger immune systems
•    Less bothered by aches and pains
•    Lower blood pressure
•    Exercise more and take better care of their health
•    Sleep longer and feel more refreshed upon waking

•    Higher levels of positive emotions
•    More alert, alive, and awake
•    More joy and pleasure
•    More optimism and happiness

•    More helpful, generous, and compassionate
•    More forgiving
•    More outgoing
•    Feel less lonely and isolated.

New Neuroscience Reveals 4 Rituals That Will Make You Happy

by Eric Barker

We all have moments of gratitude. The question is how can we stay grateful and happy all the time?  You need to build gratitude into your routine instead of making it a lucky accident.

Research shows that gratitude isn’t just correlated with happiness—gratitude causes happiness. Simply put: It’s not that happy people are grateful. It’s that grateful people are happy.

In Praise of Gratitude

Harvard Mental Health Letter | November 1, 2011

When their week’s assignment was to write and personally deliver a letter of gratitude to someone who had never been properly thanked for his or her kindness, participants immediately exhibited a huge increase in happiness scores. This impact was greater than that from any other intervention, with benefits lasting for a month.

The Grateful Brain: the neuroscience of giving thanks

by Alex Korb, PhD | November 20, 2012

Furthermore, feelings of gratitude directly activated brain regions associated with the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine feels good to get, which is why it’s generally considered the “reward” neurotransmitter. But dopamine is also almost important in initiating action. That means increases in dopamine make you more likely to do the thing you just did. It’s the brain saying, “Oh, do that again.”

A Simple Exercise to Increase Well-Being and Lower Depression from Martin Seligman, Founding Father of Positive Psychology

by Ocean Robbins | Nov 4, 2011 

But consider this: Negative attitudes are bad for you. And gratitude, it turns out, makes you happier and healthier. If you invest in a way of seeing the world that is mean and frustrated, you're going to get a world that is, well, more mean and frustrating. But if you can find any authentic reason to give thanks, anything that is going right with the world or your life, and put your attention there, then statistics say you're going to be better off.

A Serving of Gratitude May Save the Day

by John Tierney | NOV 21, 2011

“Gratitude is more than just feeling good,” says Nathan DeWall, who led the study at Kentucky. “It helps people become less aggressive by enhancing their empathy. “It’s an equal-opportunity emotion. Anyone can experience it and benefit from it, even the most crotchety uncle at the Thanksgiving dinner table.”
“More than other emotion, gratitude is the emotion of friendship,” Dr. McCullough says. “It is part of a psychological system that causes people to raise their estimates of how much value they hold in the eyes of another person. Gratitude is what happens when someone does something that causes you to realize that you matter more to that person than you thought you did.”

A Simple Exercise to Increase Well-Being and Lower Depression from Martin Seligman, Founding Father of Positive Psychology

By Maria Popova

Gratitude can make your life happier and more satisfying. When we feel gratitude, we benefit from the pleasant memory of a positive event in our life. Also, when we express our gratitude to others, we strengthen our relationship with them. But sometimes our thank you is said so casually or quickly that it is nearly meaningless. In this exercise… you will have the opportunity to experience what it is like to express your gratitude in a thoughtful, purposeful manner… This somewhat self-consciousness-inducing exercise, Seligman promises, will make you happier and less depressed a mere month from now.

The Possible Connection Between Gratitude and Heart Health

by Spirituality in Clinical Practice | April 9, 2015

Higher levels of gratitude were associated with better mood, better sleep, less fatigue and less inflammation, a factor that can worsen heart failure, according to the study.

Additional Studies on Gratitude

Via the Greater Good