And if you have a mood disorder such as depression, being able to see any positives or express gratitude can seem impossible. Group one wrote a gratitude letter to another person every week for three weeks. Group two wrote about their thoughts and feelings about negative experiences. Group one reported “significantly better mental health four and 12 weeks” after the intervention ended. The brain is hard-wired to fixate on what can go wrong, on perceived threats, research has found.

To take advantage of the evidence, picking up a regular gratitude exercise is essential. Just like exercise is helpful to the entire body, gratitude is helpful to the mind. In the 2017 study by Kyeong et al., their gratitude intervention was observed via fMRI to enhance participants’ motivation as well. Here, specifically, researchers looked at the activity of the nucleus accumbens (NA) during a rested state. The NA is responsible for the cognitive processing of motivation, in part, and its activity may be affected in individuals with major depression. When engaging in a regular gratitude practice, the NA in the brain may very well be positively impacted.

Tips for Developing Gratitude

While logical steps to decision-making combined with intuition are valuable, it’s your intuition that may give you the edge. Ask yourself if there is a way to please yourself and others. In decision-making groups, women who hid their feelings later admitted that they were afraid of making the wrong decision. Very often, when asked what they meant by „the wrong decision,” they said they were afraid that their decision would not please others. You might consider the feelings or opinions of others, whether family, friends, or colleagues.

  • For example, if you tell your friend that you appreciate them offering you a shoulder to lean on in tough times, your friend will recognize their importance and continue to be there for you.
  • Similarly, the endless pursuit of happiness can be draining, and life can throw up painful moments without warning.
  • While marriage was the evidence of the gene in this study, of course it applies to multiple relationships.
  • Gratitude is the key to a happy life and should be continuous, practiced daily.

For wellbeing, happiness, performance and patience, cultivate gratitude. Exactly like Steven said
Sometimes we focus too much on what we don’t have instead of what we do have. Gratitude really goes against the self-serving bias because when we’re grateful, we give credit to other people for our success. We accomplished some of it ourselves, yes, but we widen our range of attribution to also say, “Well, my parents gave me this opportunity.” Or, “I had teachers. I had siblings, peers—other people assisted me along the way.” That’s very different from a self-serving bias. Join 550,000+ helping professionals who get free, science-based tools sent directly to their inbox.

Expert Tips for Practicing Gratitude for Mental Health

The importance of practicing gratitude, in small steps throughout your day, is a vital tool in maintaining optimal mental, physical, and emotional health. It also acts as a ripple of positivity in your relationships, social circles, and community. We can all practice gratitude and pay it forward for a better, kinder world. “Taking time each day to reflect on the things you’re thankful for can help increase overall well-being and life satisfaction,” says Dr. Brandon. You don’t have to write every single thing you’re grateful for, either.

why is gratitude essential

This was significantly based on the way gratitude affected human relationships. People tend to feel more positively about themselves and others when they express gratitude and hear expressions of gratitude. This has to do with the positive social meanings we ascribe to gratitude. In fact, the University of New South Whales found when people heard someone express gratitude, they were more likely to conclude they could form a meaningful relationship with the person. If you’re looking for an example of a gratitude journal template, you can find a rough outline below. It gives a number of different prompts that you can use to start writing about your day and the things you’re grateful for.

Gratitude as Daily Practice

Plus, be the first to receive exclusive content & discounts. Someone could have everything and still feel like they have nothing. Someone could have nothing but still be happy with what they have.

why is gratitude essential

In one study, healthcare workers who wrote down „three good things” each day experienced decreased emotional exhaustion and depression and improved their work-life balance and overall happiness. Gratitude is all about recognizing and appreciating those people, things, moments, skills, or gifts that bring joy, peace, or comfort into our lives. You might thank a person to show you are thankful gratitude in recovery for them, or you might spend a moment simply mentally appreciating what you have. Feelings of gratitude often emerge spontaneously in the moment, but evidence suggests that consciously cultivating such thankfulness can have mental health benefits. In summary, the ability for a gratitude practice to positively impact the brain and body is increasingly clear from a scientific viewpoint.

Activate Gratitude Regularly

Instead, you begin to focus on good things that you may have overlooked. Fortunately, gratitude is like a muscle that you can build. With the right exercises and practice, you can find at least something small to appreciate in even the bleakest day. The idea of cultivating gratitude might sound cheesy, but research has shown that it can have very real benefits. With these tips, you can use gratitude to uplift your mood, find respite from negativity, foster stronger relationships, and even change the way you view yourself. Gratitude has a strong positive impact on psychological well-being as well.

  • This is a great way to start your day with a grateful heart.
  • Reaping the benefits of thinking positively can take time, but with practice, the pursuit of happiness can be a worthwhile and effective one.
  • It can have a powerful role in your health and well-being.
  • Cultivating gratitude isn’t a complicated endeavor, but it does require effort and a commitment to change.
  • Emmons has authored several papers on the psychology of gratitude, showing that being more grateful can lead to increased levels of wellbeing (Emmons & Crumpler, 2000).