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I have recently been trying to focus more on gratitude in my life. Over the last month or so, I have dealt with a lot of illness and sadness in my life. I realized that at one point I stopped focusing on the good things. It’s so easy to spiral into a pit of negativity. However, I’ve found that being mindful of the blessings in my life has allowed me to gain some positivity and a fresh perspective.
Gratitude Can Literally Rewire Your Brain
To discover more about the importance of gratitude, I conducted some research and found a great article from Neurohealth titled, “Neuroscience Reveals: Gratitude Literally Rewires Your Brain to be Happier.” This article discusses a study that revealed the power of gratitude. A group of people were asked to keep a journal of things that they were grateful for, and another group was asked to keep a journal of irritations. There was also a third group that wrote about daily events that had neither a positive nor negative connotation.
This study revealed that the group who journaled about gratefulness overall felt more optimistic and positive about life than the others. It even affected their physical health, as over the course of the 10 week study, they visited the doctor fewer times and actually were more physically active.
Studies have been conducted on the brain specifically, and it has been found that gratitude activates the hypothalamus, which is a part of the brain that regulates hormones responsible for critical functions like emotional responses and survival functions like sleep. Gratitude can help relieve stress as well as release dopamine, which is a pleasure hormone.
This article was super informative, and I loved learning more about gratitude. I feel as though it is often overlooked, and it takes a deliberate effort to focus on being grateful.
How Can I Express More Gratitude?
Being grateful can be really hard, especially when we are going through a tough time in our lives. Having a chronic illness can especially get me feeling down, and I hate the idea that it’s never going away. Living with constant illness has brought me to a dark place many times.
I recently started using a gratitude journal that my boyfriend got me for my birthday. It is very simple and easy to use, and it only takes a few minutes in the morning and at night. I start the day off with gratitude, which helps me focus on positivity. At the end of the day, I reflect on what I learned and what I am appreciative for. I believe that journaling is an awesome way to increase gratitude.
Another great thing to do is to meditate and focus on aspects of your life that you love. Sometimes, it is easy to forget about the good things, especially if they are always there. I live in a beautiful city and can literally see the ocean from my window, and I even forget about that sometimes!
Lastly, it’s great to share your gratitude with others. I find that if I sit with a friend, family member, or my boyfriend and chat about the amazing things on our lives, it helps me become more grateful of what I have been blessed with.
Gratitude Can Help You Through A Dark Time
According to an article from Mental Health First Aid, “studies have found that a single act of thoughtful gratitude produces an immediate 10% increase in happiness, and a 35% reduction in depressive symptoms.” You can read more here.
Life is hard. It just is. And it can feel very unfair at times. There are moments where I don’t feel like forcing myself to be positive or grateful, and that’s okay. But, I know that consciously practicing gratitude has always helped me move forward when I am struggling mentally.
If you are in a dark time, don’t forget to reach out to loved ones and ask for help. Sometimes, talking to someone can make the burden easier to carry. And maybe they can join you on a journey towards gratitude!