We usually encounter the term motivation, drive, hard work and goals when it comes to self-improvement. However, there is also another jargon that plays a significant role if you are keen to self-improvement. And that’s gratitude.
We often associate gratitude as a way of being satisfied and complacent, mainly passivity. There are also some people that sees gratitude as the opposite of having the drive and grit towards your goals. They see gratitude as something that slows you down from achieving your goals in life.
However, this shouldn’t be the case as gratitude is one of the aspect that each successful should have. Let’s deep dive on what gratitude is and how can this lead you to be more successful.
WHAT IS GRATITUDE?
According to verywellmind;
“Gratitude is a positive emotion that involves being thankful and appreciative and is associated with several mental and physical health benefits. When you experience gratitude, you feel grateful for something or someone in your life and respond with feelings of kindness, warmth, and other forms of generosity.”
Gratitude is a positive emotion that all of us feel whenever we feel thankful about something or someone, you are responding at a given thought or situation with kindness, warmth and peacefulness.
There is something unique about gratitude that we all can admit how different it feels whenever we are at this state. This can best be explained by neuroscience.
THE NEUROSCIENCE BEHIND GRATITUDE
Gratitude helps our brain to release more dopamine which is commonly called the “happy hormones”, this is what we found from PositivePsychology.com about the neuroscience of gratitude;
“When we express gratitude and receive the same, our brain releases dopamine and serotonin, the two crucial neurotransmitters responsible for our emotions, and they make us feel ‘good’. They enhance our mood immediately, making us feel happy from the inside.
By consciously practicing gratitude everyday, we can help these neural pathways to strengthen themselves and ultimately create a permanent grateful and positive nature within ourselves.”
It was also noted from the study conducted on individual seeking mental health guidance revealed that participants of the group who wrote letters of gratitude besides their regular counseling sessions, felt better and recovered sooner. The other group in the study was asked to journal their negative experiences instead of writing gratitude letters reported feelings of anxiety and depression.
This is how gratitude can have significant impact to your brain, it can replaced toxic emotions that we have. Let’s now see what are the different benefits of being grateful…
BENEFITS OF BEING GRATEFUL
1. Enhances empathy and reduces aggression
The more we are grateful about ourselves the more we become more emphatic. Grateful person see each situation differently, they are more understanding and have a positive perspective whenever they see other people. This significantly reduces aggression and increase empathy towards other people.
This allows you to have clear view of the situation rather than focusing on the issue or problems you are encountering. The calmer you are the more logical your every decisions will be.
2. Improves self esteem
Often times fear comes from our brain whenever we are at our defense mode, it usually boils down from our weaknesses and insecurities deep within us. This is contrary to what gratitude provides, as it can improve your life tremendously. Gratitude can help you see the best things that you have and this somewhat removes and replaces your fears from within.
The conditioning of our mind (including our subconscious mind) through regular practice of gratitude, creates a different story to ourselves that replaces all those fears and anxiety that we have both consciously and subconsciously. This ultimately increases your self-esteem and self-worth.
3. Improves physical and psychological health
Can you easily see if someone is sad or happy? How come those who feels stress and sad can easily be recognized just by looking at them. The same goes when we feel happy. Gratitude helps us remove all the anxiety whereby improving our wellbeing, blood circulation and our overall health.
4. Improves sleep
Studies have shown that receiving and displaying simple acts of kindness activates the hypothalamus, and thereby regulates all bodily mechanisms controlled by the hypothalamus, and out of which sleep is a vital one.
Gratitude helps to remove the anxiety and other toxic emotions which allow someone to be calmer and at peace. This helps people to have a more comfortable and significantly improve their sleep.
Imagine the time when you are worried and anxious, sometimes you will wake up tired and not feeling refreshed. That’s how positive and negative thought can impact your sleep cycle.
5. Builds our emotional resilience
Emotional resilience is an art of living that is entwined with self-belief, self-compassion, and enhanced cognition. It is the way through which we empower ourselves to perceive adversities as ‘temporary’ and keep evolving through the pain and sufferings.
Gratitude helps us to have different perspective even when you are at your darkest hours. Gratitude allows us to see the end of the tunnel. Being grateful allows you to lessen the emotional burdens and see things from a different lens.
WAYS TO PRACTICE GRATITUDE
1. Gratitude journal
Everyday, focus on writing down at least 3 things (up to you on how many you wanted to entry) that you are grateful for. This creates a habit which forces you to see all the good things that you have even though you might be at your worst days.
This gives you a different perspective of your life. It has been proven that people who appreciate the little things in their life are happier and are considered to be more successful than those who sees life negatively.
One of the most successful and influential woman in the world, who uses this approach is Oprah Winfrey.
Others prefer doing meditation, every morning set aside at least 3 to 10 minutes to meditate and think about all the positive things about your life. You can also have a vision of your day having the best things that you are excited to see.
This practice gives you somewhat a sense of fulfillment even when you just started the day. Imagine the huge difference of starting the day with a smile rather than with frown due to all the responsibilities that you are too afraid or anxious to face.
In a fast pace world that we have right now, we often neglect to see the small details that we can be grateful with. We often neglect to be thankful for all the good things that we already have in pursuit of what we wanted, not knowing that this harms us more than what we know.
Start seeing things differently today, start looking at the small but great things about your life and you will see how it can significantly influence your thoughts, your actions, yours decisions and how it will ultimately change your life.