I often hear individuals report how they feel their life is boring. How they feel they are left out or unsatisfied because someone’s life is so much better. What I also hear from these individuals is how they have either forgotten their own life adventures or have minimized their experiences and accomplishments because it was just something they were “supposed” to do. I recently had to remind my own relative to still be grateful for their experiences because without them their life would have been even more boring. How we will always want more, and how we still must practice gratitude. This began my quest to educate others about the benefits and steps of gratitude.
Benefits of Gratitude
Many believe there are no benefits of increasing gratitude practices daily. However, studies have shown how the brain is positively affected when being grateful is increased. By increasing gratitude, it will stimulate two areas of the brain, the hypothalamus (regulates stress) and the ventral tegmental area (plays a role in the brain’s reward system that produces feelings of pleasure). There is also a greater neural sensitivity in the medial prefrontal cortex (an area of the brain associated with learning and decision making).
- Keep a daily or weekly list of things you are grateful for.
- Write a thank-you note putting your gratitude of others on paper or via email.
- Write a gratitude letter to another person every week for four weeks and share with your therapist. Challenge: Also share with the person you wrote the letter to.
- Don’t expect the benefits of gratitude to immediately begin, be patient, it takes time.