Gratitude and the Brain

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Do you have the habit of giving thanks? Gratitude is considered, scientifically, an intrinsic value to individual and relational happiness. Physical and mental health are altered by the level of gratitude we maintain in life, which means our levels of well-being and happiness are related to our feelings of gratitude.

What are the effects of gratitude on the brain?

When we generate feelings of gratitude, we activate the brain’s reward system located in an area called the Accumbens Nucleus. This system is responsible for the feelings of well-being and pleasure in our bodies. When the brain identifies that something good has happened, that there are things in our life that deserve recognition and for which we are grateful, dopamine—an important neurotransmitter (hormone) that increases the sensation of pleasure—is released.

This is why people who express gratitude experience high levels of positive emotions, satisfaction with life, vitality, and optimism. Gratitude stimulates brain pathways to release another hormone called oxytocin, which stimulates affection, tranquility, empathy and reduces levels of anxiety and stress. Exercising gratitude dissolves anguish and feelings of anger and frustration.

Gratitude and the Bible

The importance of gratitude in our lives is also supported by the Bible.

In everything, give praise: for this is the purpose of God in Christ Jesus for you.

I Thessalonians 5:18

When we experience hardships we tend to be sad, angry, and ask, “Why me?”. But even when we face these situations, we should look for reasons to be thankful to God. The Bible gives us the example of Paul who learned to be grateful, even when things did not seem favorable.

…for I have learned how to be content in any circumstance. I know the experience of being in need and of having more than enough; I have learned the secret to being content in any and every circumstance, whether full or hungry or whether having plenty or being poor. I can endure all these things through the power of the one who gives me strength.

Philippians 4:11-13

Whenever we express gratitude to God in hard times, we remove the focus from the problem and place it on the One who can grant us the solution.

Are you ready to change your life by expressing more gratitude?

If you don’t already have the habit of giving thanks, here are some steps to add gratefulness to your daily life!

  • The first step to expressing gratitude is to remember God’s blessings. They fill our hearts with gratitude because we see how much God has done for us. He gives us life, sustenance, salvation, and many other special blessings.
  • At the end of every day, write at least five reasons for which you are grateful that day. You will realize, over the days, that the number of reasons will increase.
  • Look in the mirror and list out loud the things which you admire about yourself and everything you like about yourself.
  • Set aside a moment each day for yourself, whether it’s time for stretching, exercising, reading, or devotions. Activities that provide well-being are good for our bodies and minds.
  • Volunteering promotes a sense of well-being and gratitude. Offering your time, donation, or support to institutions that depend on volunteer services can be a great way to show your generosity and cultivate gratitude.

Are you ready to begin? Leave a reason you have to be grateful in the comments below!

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