As we celebrate the holiday season and end of the year, it is common to reflect on giving and sharing with others and what it means to be grateful. Fortunately, the feeling we get when we feel grateful is something that can last all year long.
Did you know that expressing and receiving gratitude changes the brain? Research shows that gratitude literally rewires the brain to be happier. Two neurotransmitters responsible for our emotions, dopamine and serotonin, are released when we give to others and receive from others. That release makes us feel good on the inside. Developing a gratitude mindset builds feelings of positivity and appreciation for other things, which makes life so much better. Not only is the health of the physical brain improved by giving and receiving gratitude, mental health improves. It is a source of positive energy that leads to a shift in attitude and mood.
For me, gratitude is a gift of love for ourselves and others. Focusing on things for which I am grateful not only helps me with my personal challenges and stress, it is an intentional routine and action that improves my overall wellbeing. This focus does not come naturally any more than cultivating a habit of healthy eating or routine exercise. It is definitely intentional and routine. Others receive the joy and benefits of my attention in whatever way I present my thankfulness. Whether you decide to practice gratitude daily or during set times throughout the week, it is a worthwhile habit.