We’ve all heard the word gratitude. Over the past few years, it’s been fully formed in our consciousness through the hashtag #gratitude on social media. Some posts revolve around people being grateful for having traveled to far off lands, while others share in the simple pleasure of a family dinner.
When I was a kid, my parents taught my sister and I about what it meant to be grateful. They taught us to say please and thank you. They knew what it meant to be thankful because even though their parents shared the ups and downs of coming to Canada as Italian immigrants, they shed gratitude every single day.
And so, what exactly does it mean to be grateful? If you live a life full of gratitude, will good things actually come your way?
The Science And Benefits Of Being Grateful
There are always new studies that look at the science of gratitude and how beneficial switching your mindset can be, including the following:
- Psychologists Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California and Dr. Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami found that when you write about good things, your mental health improves.
- Back in 1995, a study found that when participants felt grateful, their heart rate variability progressed.
- By giving and receiving gratitude, our brain releases serotonin and dopamine to open us up to happiness. Known as the “feel good” hormone, dopamine is responsible for our emotions, and when our brain releases dopamine, we live happy lives.
3 Steps To Activating Your Gratitude
Activating your gratitude muscles is easier than you think. Here are three simple steps to expanding into the greatest version of yourself, with a whole lot of gratitude sprinkled into the mix.
- Daily Gratitude Journaling Practice: Each morning, take a few moments to write down 10 things you’re grateful for. Simply start off each sentence with ‘Thank you Universe for…” and at the end, complete the sentence with “thank you, thank you, thank you”. By writing down what you’re grateful for, you’ll start to believe in it more and more. You’ll place yourself in a calmer space.
- Remember To Thank Others: When you go out of your way to thank other people or to simply act kind towards others, you’re flexing your feel good hormones (that good ol’ dopamine muscle!). It’s been said that when you project gratitude or kindness onto others, it will come back to you ten-fold. So, hold open the door for someone whose walking into the post office, catch up with an old friend, or pay for the car behind you in the drive-thru.
- Just Breathe: Having an off day? Don’t feel like talking to anyone because you’re pissed off? No matter what, we all have off days and moments. By taking a step back, you shift your mindset to feel gratefulness in that moment. It’s about projecting a sense of peace to feel the gratitude within you. Close your eyes and take five slow and steady breaths. As you slow down your breath, acknowledge what you are grateful for, release what no longer feels right, and breathe into all of the emotions that come up.