Did you Know Gratitude Rewires your Brain for Happiness?
Gratitude has the power to wire our brains to be optimistic and compassionate, making us feel happier. Here are some of the things that happen in our brains when we practice placing our focus on good things in our lives.
Increased Dopamine - one of the “feel good” chemicals in our brain. When we express gratitude, our brain releases a hit of dopamine, which brings on good feelings, and motivates us to repeat specific behaviours (like expressing gratitude!)
Increased Serotonin - Serotonin is often called the happiness chemical because it contributes to feelings of well-being, stabilises our mood, and helps us feel more relaxed.
Activation of the Brain’s “Altruism” and Reward System Regions - a recent study found that practicing gratitude activates the part of the brain associated with altruism (the ventromedial prefrontal cortex - VMPFC), which basically means your brain craves the experience of giving. Altruism is known to increase our own happiness and wellbeing, as well as that of others.
3 Ways to Practice Gratitude
* Write a daily list of things you are grateful for - list at least three.
* Make a point to tell people in your life what you appreciate about them regularly.
* Get into the habit of taking a moment or two to think about a quality you like about yourself or something you appreciate about yourself whenever you look in the mirror (yes, this one feels weird at first, but it gets easier!).
The more we look for things we're grateful for, the more we find to appreciate, and the positive effect amplifies over time. As well as making us happier, gratitude has a whole lot of other benefits, but I’ll leave that for another day!