Gratitude is wonderful. It’s brilliant. It’s a fabulous thing, and over and above the niceness of it, it is really, really good for you.
Don’t just take my word for it though. Listen to the scientists. Researchers have found that by noticing things for which you are grateful, the levels of two important chemicals in your brain actually increase. They are serotonin and dopamine, and guess what – when put together they make us happier (serotonin), and want to do more of the things that just made us happy (dopamine).
Researchers in schools have found that teaching children to be more grateful enhances their learning and reduces mental health problems such as depression. Gratitude can cause a long term increase in how happy they feel about their lives.
In fact, Robert Emmons, a world expert on gratitude, has said that gratitude has one of the strongest links to mental health and satisfaction with life of any personality trait—more than optimism, hope, or compassion. Grateful people experience higher levels of joy, enthusiasm, love, and happiness. Not only that but being grateful helps you cope better with stress and recover more quickly when things go wrong.
So how do you get all of this good stuff in your life? It is incredibly simple. Spend 3 – 5 minutes a day (yes, that’s all), writing down a few things for which you are grateful. They don’t need to be big things, because big things don’t come along every day. But small things do. A smile from a stranger, someone holding a door open, sunshine, rain, a hug, a nice cup of coffee, a good song on the radio, putting on your favourite jeans. These, and many more things, happen all the time and when we start to notice them and remember to feel grateful regularly, the changes in how we feel are simply amazing.
My own passion for the power of gratitude means I’m currently conducting a research study into its effect on children’s wellbeing, with 160 or so young people practicing a gratitude meditation every day. Believe me, I’m really grateful to them and their teachers for their help. I’ll let you know what we find.
So go ahead, celebrate World Gratitude Day by starting your own gratitude journal.
And here is a wonderful film all about the power of gratitude.
The science of happiness – an experiment in gratitude
I’m so very grateful you have read this far.