HOW GRATITUDE BRINGS JOY
Have you ever heard of dopamine? Dopamine is the chemical that is responsible in your brain for your happiness. Your brain releases this chemical when you eat something delicious, sit in the sunlight or experience any form of pleasure. Now, maybe eating two scoops of Rocky Road a day or sitting outside all day long is not physically realistic, and you want to find other ways to flood yourself with dopamine. Practicing gratitude may be your answer.
Research suggests that people over time tend to get used to their circumstances and experience a level of satisfaction. Unfortunately, this also means that when you adapt to this satisfaction, it may prevent people from being happy in their lives. However, research has also found that implementing a gratitude practice led to increases in people feeling the emotion.
Have you ever made a big purchase? Maybe a new car, a designer purse, or a fancy new snowboard. You are flooded with a familiar rush of excitement over your purchase, and maybe that feeling lasts a few weeks. Eventually, you adapt to the new item. You no longer feel excitement every time you turn the key in the car and it has merely become your circumstance. You have adapted.
Gratitude can be used as a tool to help you actually appreciate what you have in your life, and remain grounded enough to continue to find joy in those blessings. It can be so easy to forget how truly fortunate we are, with our friends and family especially. The following two studies conducted on gratitude show us how it can really make a difference in our happiness, and how powerful gratitude can be.
GRATITUDE IN ACTION
Two psychologists conducted a study to see the impact of gratitude on a person's happiness. They split people up into 3 groups and assigned each group a topic to write about for ten weeks. One group was to write about things they were grateful for over the week, the second group was to write about things that upset them and the third was to write about different events that occurred to them, without any specific emotional association. After the ten weeks, the group that had practiced gratitude felt the most optimistic and the happiest about their lives. Interestingly, they also exercised more and had fewer visits to doctors than in the second group.
A second study was conducted by another psychologist, tested on over 400 people. She asked the participants to write about their early memories, and conducted multiple writing tasks based on those memories. One week, participants were tasked to write and personally deliver a letter of gratitude to someone for an act of kindness who they had never thanked. The participants of the study immediately exhibited increased happiness scores, greater than any of the other tasks performed. The happiness and benefits lasted up to a month!
What both of these studies tell us is that gratitude is powerful.
Here at Gratitude Gifted, this second study really resonated with us. Showing someone that they are appreciated, cared about, and thought of is our why. People have a need for appreciation, and we want to spread the emotion of gratitude all over the world, to everyone we can. We have so much to be grateful for, and it truly starts with the people closest to us.