10 Ways Gratitude Can Help Improve Your Life
"Find the good. It's all around you. Find it, showcase it and you'll start believing it." - Jesse Owens
What is Gratitude?
Put plain and simple, the Oxford Dictionary defines Gratitude as "the feeling of being grateful and wanting to express your thanks." We often associate being grateful with occasions in our life such as holidays, birthdays, etc., but gratitude shouldn't be reserved for these times alone. In recent years scientists have been able to take a deep dive into this emotion to help explain exactly how practicing gratitude and feeling grateful can actually change our physical being, leading to improved health in numerous ways.
Some Nerdy Neuroscience
In 2008, scientists conducted a study to measure brain activity of people thinking and feeling gratitude. They found that "gratitude causes synchronized activation in multiple brain regions, and lights up parts of the brain’s reward pathways and the hypothalamus. In short, gratitude can boost neurotransmitter serotonin and activate the brain stem to produce dopamine." Dopamine is the brain's pleasure chemical. So, do you want to live happier and healthier? Taking time to regularly think positive and grateful thoughts is not a bad way to start!
10 Ways Gratitude Can Improve Your Life
- People Will Like You More! The simplest act of saying "thank you" can have profound impact on you and those you say it to. Showing some gratitude helps you appreciate and love what you receive even more, as well as inspires others to continue their relationship with you. By expressing sincere gratitude to those around you, you become a more likable person to be around.
- Better Sleep. Thinking about the things you are grateful for before tucking in for the night can help put you in a mindset that will, according to a 2009 study published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research, improve your quality of sleep. Being grateful can help you sleep longer and feel better rested when you wake up. So, when you go to bed count blessing instead of sheep!
- Improved Phycological Well-Being. When you proactively think positive thoughts, and even more, act on them (as simple as saying "thank you"), your brain will be filled with so much good that there will be less room for the opposite. Practicing gratitude has been linked to lower levels of depression, and fewer toxic emotions like resentment and envy.
- Enhanced Physical Health. Remember those good chemicals scientists found that your brain produces when you feel grateful? If you forgot, skim back to the top! These kinds of positive chemical reactions can have a rippling effect throughout your body leading to lower stress levels, lower blood pressure, fewer aches & pains, and improved immunity.
- Improved Exercise Habits. The more you appreciate all the incredible things that your body does for you, the more you feel an increased determination to want to protect it and take care of it. Interestingly, in one 11-week study of 96 Americans, those who were instructed to keep a weekly gratitude journal, exercised 40 minutes more per week than the control group.
- Better Decision Making & Achieving Goals. Having gratitude can help you focus on the things that matter most in life. When you are able to clear your mind of all the clutter that naturally builds up in life, and set your sights on what matters most, you can have a clearer vision for how to move forward with better long-term decision making. A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that college students who kept gratitude journals reported higher levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, energy and attentiveness compared to their counterparts.
- Bounce Back Better From Hardships. Gratitude is key in helping manage stress during difficult times. It's the age-old practice of looking at the glass half-full or half-empty! When you choose to focus on the good versus the bad you create a foundation for yourself to stand on that strengthens as you work to recover from your trial.
- Long-Lasting Happiness. An attitude of gratitude can help you increase positive emotions and also sustain them. By taking time to open up your eyes and mind to the little things, you can start a snowball effect of being able to recognize more meaningful everyday blessings that don't just come and go like a cheep toy that falls apart after one day of playing with it.
- Enhanced Career. As you work in any level of leadership role, expressing gratitude to your employees/team has been found to be be highly motivating and a great way to increase productivity. Sharing your gratitude for coworkers can also increase their enthusiasm, creativity, and support.
- You'll Feel Better About Yourself. Some your feelings relating to your personal self-esteem stem from how you compare ourselves to others. Feeling grateful for what you have helps you to reframe those thoughts. So, instead of seeking competition and comparison, focus on seeking connection and contribution through what you do have - it will inevitably make your life better.
Ways to Practice Gratitude
Some great ways to practice gratitude include the following:
- Create a gratitude journal that you write in every day
- Make a habit out of saying "thank you" at home, work, and with others
- Look for ways to regularly serve others with your time and talents
- Make regular dedicated time to practice mindfulness/meditation where you can think about the things in your life that you are grateful for.
However you find the best routine to integrate more gratitude into your life, we hope that you can start to feel the incredible benefits that come from it. To add at little extra brain power to help you do so, try fueling your body and mind with the fruits & veggies found in Ruvi Focus.
Get yourself some Ruvi Focus today!