January 8th, 2017
Contributing writer for Wake Up World
The positive psychology movement might not be your cup of tea — especially if you view it as some kind of Pollyanna sugarcoating of hardships, that’s superficial at best, downright denial at worst. Looking on the bright side all the time may simply ring false. But there is one positive feeling that we would be wise to cultivate, if nothing else than for our personal well-being. That feeling is gratitude.
With simple practices like keeping a gratitude diary or writing letters of thanks, research has shown time and again that we can dramatically reduce depression and anxiety. We’ll also feel more socially connected with others. Other studies have found gratitude can increase willpower, keep you calm and even boost employee morale. It can literally transform our lives. And now, science has discovered that expressions of genuine gratitude can also physically change our brain — for the better.
“Fad diets aside, we all know the basic formula for greater physical health — eat less junk and exercise more. The same can be said for greater happiness. Sure, mental health is hugely complex, but the research on how to promote basic, day-to-day well-being couldn’t be clearer — just cultivate gratitude.” ~Jessica Stillman in “Gratitude Physically Changes Your Brain, New Study Says”
A brain-scanning study published in NeuroImage has brought us closer to understanding why gratitude practices trigger positive effects. Even months after a simple gratitude writing task, the researchers found the participant’s brains were still wired to feel extra thankful.
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