I’m going to let you in on a little secret I learned years ago that has served me well. What you focus on comes to pass. When you practice gratitude, you train your mind to be more positive, which has some interesting physical implications. Practicing gratitude and positive thinking directly affects your brain chemistry. That’s right, by focusing on gratitude and happiness; you control the release of certain chemicals and neurotransmitters that influence how you feel both physically and mentally. Let’s take a look at how that works.
More Feel-Good Hormones
Focusing on happiness and gratitude leads to the release of two “feel good” hormones - dopamine and serotonin. These two neurotransmitters are responsible for those warm fuzzy feelings. Yes, there are other ways to get them, like exercise and chocolate, for example. But who wouldn’t want to increase these powerful antidepressants with something as simple as giving and receiving gratitude, for instance? This stresses the point that you can make your happiness. And it’s not just a mental exercise. Focusing on positivity, making a conscious effort to be more grateful and happier changes the balance of hormones and neurotransmitters in your body and brain.
In short, practicing gratitude and the resulting feeling of happiness are a powerful strategy to beat depression and anxiety, often working better than prescription drugs - and without the nasty side effects.
Fewer Stress Hormones
When you are anxious or scared, the body releases stress hormones like adrenaline, cortisol, and the likes. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. It helps you react fast when you’re about to be hit by a car and make you run faster when you need to get away from someone. But it works against you and robs you of your health and wellbeing when it’s a response to something that isn’t a physical danger, like tax day or worrying about what your co-worker thinks of you.
Stress hormones can lead to weight gain, depression, anxiety, and they take a toll on your heart. You know you should do what you can to reduce the stress you feel, and as it turns out, one of the most powerful strategies here is practicing gratitude and positive thinking. So choose happiness and know that you are doing wonders for your mental and physical health.
So what’s the bottom line? When you are mindful of all of the things you are grateful for in your life, you can learn to appreciate all the good even in the midst of the bad and cultivate happiness. Stop waiting for the right person, the right circumstances. Don’t wait for happiness to find you. Be happy right now at this moment. And use gratitude to help you get there.