Dr. Alex Korb recently wrote an article in Psychology Today about a Thanksgiving Day tradition that has the power to reshape your neural pathways. It isn't the turkey increasing your serotonin, or the apple pie inducing dopamine. The tradition? Thanks giving. Giving thanks...being grateful.
A group of young adults was asked to keep a daily journal of things they were grateful for. Other groups recorded things that annoyed them, or reasons why they were better off than others. The young adults who kept gratitude journals were significantly more determined, focused, enthusiastic and energetic than the other groups.
The same researchers conducted a separate study on older adults, which showed that a weekly gratitude journal resulted in greater optimism, more positive behavior, and reduced aches and pains.
In a third study, a group of Chinese researchers looked at the combined effects of gratitude and sleep quality on symptoms of anxiety and depression. They found that higher levels of gratitude were associated with better sleep, and with lower anxiety and depression. The researchers found that people who showed more gratitude were less depressed, even if they had insomnia. However, gratitude showed no effect on anxiety for those with poor sleep. Anxiety responded positively to adequate sleep. So gratitude had a direct effect on depression symptoms, and an indirect effect on anxiety: more gratitude = improved sleep; more sleep = less anxiety. Being consciously grateful impacts depression, improves sleep, and lowers anxiety.
What's your excuse for not getting your gratitude ON?!