Gratitude is an acknowledgement of the positive things and goodness in our lives. It may be expressed through an act of kindness or an expression of appreciation.
Gratitude activates positive emotions such as happiness and contentment and combats depression by releasing 'feel good' neurotransmitters in our brain (serotonin and dopamine), acting as a natural anti-depressant. By consciously practicing gratitude we strengthen these neural pathways, ultimately making it easier for ourselves to feel happy and positive. Gratitude practice is also associated with increased energy, vitality, empathy, compassion, and enthusiasm to work harder.
Practicing gratitude helps to reduce stress and anxiety by down-regulating our stress hormones (e.g. cortisol), which helps our immune system flourish. Through the release of dopamine, gratitude also helps to reduce subjective feelings of physical pain. Through its impacts on the hypothalamus, gratitude practice improves quality of sleep; sleeping deeper and waking up feeling more refreshed.
Gratitude has a social component to it as well. Expressing gratefulness for what others have done for us and acknowledgement of what we have done for others helps to build and strength social connection and social bonding. It also helps us create deep relationships because knowing how to give and receive thanks is crucial to relationship satisfaction and maintenance.
Please consider joining us in our 14-day gratitude challenge. You can keep a private gratitude journal, integrate gratitude into your daily routine, or get creative with it by making a gratitude jar filled with personal notes of gratitude or create a gratitude poster board or collage with images of gratitude. If you would like to share your gratitude journey with others your can post your days of gratitude on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or other forms of social media. We would love to follow along on your gratitude journey so please feel free to tag us! @stillarpsych
"With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives … As a result, gratitude also helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals..."
– Harvard Medical School
“Enjoy the little things. For one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” – Robert Brault
“It is not happiness that brings us gratitude. It is gratitude that brings us happiness.”
“Be thankful for what you have, you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never ever have enough.” – Oprah Winfrey
“Gratitude makes sense of your past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow” – Melody B.
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