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Giving Thanks Does Your Body Good

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked

effects of gratitude on health

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  • Gratitude involves affirming the good in your life and recognizing its sources. It is the understanding that life owes you nothing, and that the good things in your life are gifts that cannot be taken for granted
  • Gratitude is uniquely important to psychological well-being. In teenagers, gratitude has been found to correlate with positive emotions, life satisfaction, social support and prosocial behavior
  • Gratitude lowers stress, improves depression and improves emotional resiliency; researchers have suggested gratitude practice can be used as a psychotherapeutic intervention
  • One particularly potent strategy is to write a letter of gratitude to someone whom you’ve not properly thanked for their kindness, and to hand deliver the letter to them. This has been shown to result in an immediate and significant increase in happiness that can last for up to a month
  • A dozen different strategies are reviewed, all of which can help you build and strengthen your sense of gratitude

Focusing on gratitude has become a growing trend in recent years, and for good reason. There’s a lot of stress, illness and unhappiness in the world, and gratitude is an effective remedy for all of these — and it’s free. For example, research shows that gratitude:

Alters your brain in a number of beneficial ways — Examples include triggering release of mood-regulating neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine and oxytocin; inhibiting the stress hormone cortisol; and stimulating your hypothalamus (a brain area involved in the regulation of stress) and your ventral tegmental area (part of your brain’s reward circuitry that produces pleasurable feelings)


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