Need Inner Calm? An Anxiety Buster? More Happiness?The Answer Lies in this Simple (but Powerful) Best Life Tool!
By Erika Fehrenbach Prell
That’s the answer to combat stress and anxiety, boost your happiness factor, and bring so many other health benefits into your life. The field of positive psychology as well as other health professions such as nursing and medicine are showing the positive effects of gratitude on the body through study after study. These effects benefit all areas of your life - psychologically, physically, and socially. Here are a few examples:
1. Psychological benefits of gratitude
It doesn’t stop there, DreamChaser! Studies have shown that expressing gratitude helps you to deal with adversity as well as bounce back from these hard times with more strength and motivation. As if that wasn’t enough, and this is my favorite one, studies have shown that practicing gratitude every day helps create neural pathways to naturally and permanently make you feel grateful, more positive, and happier daily. These studies have shown that a daily gratitude practice was as effective in treating mild to moderate anxiety symptoms as taking a daily prescription medication. Whoa! Think about it this way…if your anxiety is affecting your life to the point you need an intervention, you could treat it by taking a daily pill OR practicing daily gratitude. Do not get me wrong, being a nurse practitioner, I wholeheartedly believe you should take medications for illnesses when needed. But, the data from these studies support that practicing gratitude is one of the simplest, most effective ways to boost your overall health and wellness.
Okay, cynics…I hear you out there saying, “It’s too good to be true”. Being a bit cynical myself, I present you with the evidence; the answer to how gratitude works. Gratitude affects the prefrontal cortex of the brain, which is responsible for complex cognitive behaviors like focus, managing emotions, and predicting the consequences of one’s actions. Expressing and receiving gratitude stimulates the brain to release dopamine and serotonin, the two brain chemicals for emotions that result in an immediate positive boost in mood. It's like a calm button for the prefrontal cortex, making you feel happy from the inside-out. In case you missed this interesting point, you get the same effect from gratitude by expressing it or receiving it, meaning, telling someone you are grateful for them allows you AND them to benefit from the power of gratitude.
Convinced? I sure hope so, DreamChaser! Gratitude is one of the most powerful best life tools you absolutely must add to your Best Life Toolbox. Here’s how to do it:
Yeah, that’s it! In a matter of a few minutes, you have brought the healing and life-boosting benefits of gratitude into your life. Really want to benefit from gratitude? Here are a few more ideas:
All signs (and data…sorry, science nerd here) point to adding the powerful force of gratitude into your daily life. With Thanksgiving right around the corner, this is as perfect a time as any to start!
Jackie White has been writing about life and its ups and downs for many years. With a degree in Industrial Psychology and a life-long student of personal development she is intrigued by how each individual chooses to live their life. Jackie feels strongly that truly living your best life is imperative to attaining peace and fulfillment. SoulShine was borne of her desire to inspire and teach others to live their best life. This is her mission and her dream.