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Gratitude Makes Your Brain Happy

Beautiful young woman with her hands on her chest looking gratefully towards the sky.

Do you ever get overcome with unexpected joy when a complete stranger holds the door for you while your hands are full or feel relief the time a random driver lets your car merge into heavy traffic as you’re running late? If so, this is your brain experiencing gratitude. So what exactly is gratitude? It’s the feeling of joy or contentment experienced in recognizing elements of your life that generate a sense of deep appreciation. You experience gratitude whenever you affirm someone, something, or even situations that reveal the positive aspects in your day. What makes gratitude such a powerful emotion is that it transcends the human experience.

In fact, more research into the brain suggests that gratitude became a survival strategy that favored early human pro-social behavior. We humans are fundamentally social beings with brains that evolved to navigate the complex world of our social environment. Gratitude was a tactic that helped regulate and strengthen social solidarity within the tribe. Expressing gratitude also boasts numerous health benefits—from increasing longevity, decreasing anxiety, enjoying a healthier immune system, to getting better sleep. It’s no surprise that gratitude is a hallmark preached by all the world’s spiritual traditions for millennia; for it is a contemplative practice that spreads a wave of happiness and joy out into the world.

As you celebrate Thanksgiving, remember to express gratitude to those in your life or just acknowledge aspects of your day that make you feel genuine appreciation. The more you embody an “Attitude of Gratitude,” the more you experience a happy brain—a happy brain is a healthy and resilient brain. So it turns out the secret in attaining health and happiness is as simple as just learning to be grateful! Read more about The Power of Gratitude


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