It seems like common sense—people who are grateful are often happy folks. Now, neuroscience confirms it. Studies show that feeling grateful activates the part of the brain that produces dopamine. And dopamine functions as a neurotransmitter that controls the brain’s reward and pleasure centers.
In fact, just remembering to feel grateful is enough to produce positive effects. And the more you do it the more you increase your emotional intelligence and the less effort it takes for you to be grateful.
Here are some ways gratitude helps boost your happiness:
- Increases Self-Esteem. When you feel grateful, you are glad for the good things you have achieved. Or how much others have done for you. Either way, you feel worthy. Valued.
- Focuses Away from Failures. When you are busy thinking about good things, you can’t simultaneously be thinking about hurts and slights and disappointment and things that have gone wrong in your life.
- Boosts Your Ability to Savor. When you make a practice of noticing the good things in your life, you’re developing a great habit. You can savor something a tiny as daffodils blooming, or as incredible as a newborn baby. When you relish the gifts in your life, you are, by definition, happy.
- Strengthens Your Relationships. When you feel gratitude toward someone—even if you never tell them—you are more likely to experience a closer, richer relationship. That’s because your gratitude to them makes you treat them better, then they react better and onward, in an upward spiral of a better and better relationship.
- Helps Reduce Stress. When you practice gratitude, you get in the habit of interpreting life’s ups and downs in a more positive light. You find the good in all sorts of people and you find the good in bad experiences. Sometimes adversity even brings out the gratitude in us—in times of trauma we remember our loved ones.
- Encourages You to Be Virtuous. Studies show people who are grateful are more likely to help others because you appreciate the kindness of others toward you and want to reciprocate. You are also less likely to be materialistic because you are grateful for what you have and so have less of a need to acquire more.
Ready to see if my confidential counseling services are right for you? Visit my contact page to request a consultation and I’ll get back to you right away. Click here to contact me » Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional. If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch.