Gratitude All Year Round

Gratitude All Year Round

11/18/21 Laura Gibbons

‘Tis the season to be grateful. Thanksgiving reminds us to be thankful, but being grateful is beneficial all year round. Practicing gratitude encourages us to slow down and take notice of what we are grateful for, what we appreciate, and recognizing the positive aspects of life.

Studies have shown that practicing gratitude can activate parts of our brain’s reward centers that produce dopamine and serotonin, known as the feel good chemicals. And with the discovery of brain plasticity, or neuroplasticity, we have learned that our brains can change with experiences and what we feed it. And so the more you practice gratitude, the more you strengthen the positive circuitry of the brain that makes it easier to focus on what we are grateful for day to day leading to more positivity,  optimism, and increased happiness.

And when we have more positive experiences, we create a positive feedback loop where we want to continue to practice what feels good and what creates more positive emotions. In this light, gratitude can help mitigate more negative emotions that can often take over and make us lose sight of what is still good.

Living in a busy world can distract us from being mindful in the moment, but it is recommended to spend 20-30 seconds on those things you are grateful for to maximize the benefits. And so take time to really reflect by staying in these moments of appreciation so that we continue to train our brains to think more in this way.

Since gratitude can propel us into being more positive, it is a great tool to use when you are feeling down or focusing too much on negativity. You can start by beginning each day with a daily affirmation, writing in a gratitude journal, reminiscing about good times, writing a letter of appreciation to someone, taking time to say thank you, or starting a gratitude jar for the whole family.

Remember, don’t let barriers get in the way of practicing gratitude. Don’t compare yourself to others, soften that inner critic, have more grace and self-compassion, and avoid ruminating about things you can’t control.

To get started, check out these gratitude prompts to start practicing gratitude daily.

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