There’s a lot of research out there that shows that ‘practicing gratitude’ has a profound effect on our mood as well as our health, both mentally and physically.
It seems there is a direct correlation between low mood and the physical act of expressing gratitude, whether this is in the form of performing random acts of kindness on or for others, physically writing those things you are grateful for on a daily basis or telling a friend, spouse or child what you love and appreciate about them each day.
Benefits of practicing gratitude, beyond the usual please and thank you that really is just a part of a well-functioning society include:
- A healthier immune system
- Lower blood pressure
- Optimistic outlook on life
- More joy and happiness in life
- Less loneliness and isolation (or the feelings of)
So what is it about gratitude that makes us happy?
It’s all chemical and all in our heads!
When we actively express gratitude, we feel a sense of happiness.
When we’re feeling happy, dopamine, a neurotransmitter that exists within each of us, is released into the brain. Dopamine controls the brain’s reward and pleasure centres and helps to regulate emotional responses.
Basically, dopamine not only helps us to feel good in those moments that we’re feeling happy, but also seeks out those feelings of reward and pleasure more often.
Being authentically grateful in any given moment will trigger this release and make you feel good, causing you to want more of that feel-good feeling.
Regularly practicing gratitude keeps that feeling around for longer and will not only cause you to become more gracious and compassionate, so you can revisit that experience, but will also become a habit for you.
There could be many worse habits a leader could have than expressing gratitude and being perpetually happy.
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