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Thanksgiving and gratitude

Science of Gratitude

People who regularly experience gratitude appear to recover faster from trauma and injury. They have better and closer personal relationships and may even have improved health overall. Gratitude journaling has been a well-researched means to express our feelings of thankfulness. Gratitude is a social emotion that creates an enduring bond between people. Gratitude scaffolds other emotional experiences like love and interpersonal trust. It makes us happier and more resilient. In some studies, it even has been shown to improve immune function, blood pressure, and heart function. Ratings of gratitude correlated with brain regions associated with interpersonal bonding and relief of stress. And, stress is incredibly toxic. Gratitude has been shown to relieve pain, both physical and emotional.

In an NPR podcast, a neuroscientist discussed his journaling experience. He said he did not feel better right away but it was a gradual process. Gratitude can be seen as a muscle. We become more attuned to the full range of gratitude, from someone holding a door open to donating a kidney. We can increase our resolution to gratitude.  fMRI results suggest that, over time, there was a long lasting change in the sensitivity of the brain to gratitude.

The entries don’t have to be earth-shattering. It can be “I had an easy commute,” “This coffee is warm and delicious,” “The sun is out,” or “I heard a baby laughing.” Starting small is the best place to start. Especially listen to neuroscientist 2:30-12:15.

And have a Happy Thanksgiving!


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