Words Matter: Your Brain On Gratitude

November 26, 2020

Words Matter: Your Brain On Gratitude

by Jenna Milazzo

Every year we sit around the table and we share what we’re thankful for. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays as we make it a point to focus our attention on gratitude (ok really though, the food is always so good!). What if we practiced this rhythm of gratitude more then once a year? What if it became a regular rhythm in our lives? Did you know that Practicing Gratitude on a regular basis can actually make positive changes to our brain, lower stress, helps us sleep better, and boost our overall health? Couldn’t we all use a little of that right now?

When we practice gratitude it releases chemicals in our brain that make us feel happy. According to one study, writing a thank you note to someone who was never acknowledged, immediately caused participants to have a higher score of happiness that lasted for weeks, more so than any other intervention!

The great thing about practicing gratitude is that it doesn’t take much time or added effort in your day. You don’t need to carve out an extra 20 minutes in your schedule. Here are a few ways that you can practice gratitude on a regular basis: 

1. Purchase a gratitude journal or write 3 things you’re grateful for in your current journal. Check out this gratitude journal like this one.

2. Share your gratitude at the dinner table or over a meal with a friend. 

3. Write your gratitude on your planner as your planning your day out 

4. Pray/meditate to practice being mindful and thank God for what you’re grateful for. 

5. Simply make an effort to be more mindful of what you’re grateful for - set a reminder on your phone that goes off at a certain time everyday to remind you to practice gratitude. 

Gratitude is important. It takes the focus off of our current struggles, anxiety, worry, and re-centers our thoughts. When things are hard and life isn’t going as expected, it can be very difficult to notice the good things that are happening along the way. It’s good to feel and grieve (in fact ignoring pain and your feelings can be more detrimental) but we can’t stay trapped in negativity or it will lead us down a path of despair.

Not only does science suggest that gratitude is good for us, but spiritual texts, like the Bible, talk about this too. Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things." I think God knew gratitude is good for us.

Watch this short video of our team sharing gratitude with you! Will you join us in being people who are grateful? What is your gratitude today?


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