The Science of Gratitude

Learning to cultivate an attitude of gratitude is not only simple, it’s good for us on so many levels. It increases our vibration, it nourishes the soul and it begins to shape our lives, enabling us to manifest every joy and happiness into our lives. But it’s not just an idea thought up by some mumbo jumbo whacko who was looking to push a ‘new age’ idea, it’s a science. That’s correct; there is an incredible amount of research pointing to how gratitude can improve our social attitudes and reinforce positive moral behavior.

But what exactly is gratitude? We learn from a very early age to say ‘Thank You’ when we receive something, and it becomes a conditioned, automatic response. Gratitude is different than simply saying thank you when someone hands you your coffee, it’s acknowledging the moment. It’s taking the time to stop and breathe in that moment and see beyond the cup of coffee. The growing and cultivating of the beans, the shipping of the product, and the months of preparation that went into this seemingly simple cup of coffee in your hand. It’s nothing short of a miracle! Gratitude is pausing for a moment and recognizing the miraculous that is right in front of us every single day.
There are so many things in our lives that we might be grateful for, and they can not only be large things, but small things that we have a tendency to overlook.

Expressing gratitude regularly not only helps eliminate negative attitudes, it makes you a happier, healthier you. Think about that for just a minute. We hold the power in ourselves to not only change our thinking to a more positive, encouraging thought process, we have the power to elevate our very being to a higher level of happiness and better health. If we take the time to invest our thoughts in seeing the world as a better place, by looking around us and exalting the good things we see, we are better for it in the long run.

This doesn’t mean adopting a Head-in-the-Sand attitude about the world, there are still bad things, and horrible situations happen, however choosing to focus our attention on the positive helps us deal with the negative when it does pop up. Keeping a journal of gratitude is similar to going to the gym to lift weights every day. It may be difficult at first, but the more you use the muscles in your body, the stronger you become. Imagine being able to build up your mental strength on a neurological level in the same way. Exercising your mind to turn towards gratitude builds new neuropathways and creates new habits in your thinking. We begin to use our minds to shape not only the way we see the world, but how we experience it. You have the power inside of you to change the world around you.
Once you begin manifesting an attitude of gratitude in your life, you may begin to notice other improvements in your world. Better sleep, improved self-esteem and increased empathy are just a few of the scientifically proven benefits of gratitude. Honestly, the best thing about improving our relationships with others and increasing our own happiness is that it is so easy. Let that sink in for a moment. It. Is. Easy.

Being thankful and extending gratitude is not something that is difficult to do; it’s just that we’ve fallen out of the habit. We are so bombarded by news, social media and television these days to only see the negative things in life. No matter where you turn, it’s there. Division, discord and negativity, and we’ve developed this way of thinking as a habit. Without even noticing! Just as easily, we can change our thought patterns to reflect and manifest joy into our lives. Start with simple things, keep a daily journal and write down three things daily that you’re thankful for. I personally keep a lidded jar on my dresser with a pad of sticky notes and a pen nearby. Every evening as I’m preparing for bed, I jot down three things, fold them up and poke them into the jar. My point is that it doesn’t have to be complicated or pretty or fancy, it can be simple.
Another easy way to boost your gratitude is to spread it around. Make it a point to tell people you interact daily with something that you appreciate about them. Does your receptionist at work show up ten minutes early every day to start a pot of coffee for the office? Tell her you appreciate it! What about your spouse, your children or a close friend? Share the gratitude with the people in your life. We spend a lot of time in our culture saying thank you as a routine response, but when was the last time you really stopped and leaned in closely to someone and sincerely expressed your gratitude to them for something they did, or just for being who they are?

Self-gratitude is important as well. Pause throughout your day and recognize things about yourself that you appreciate. Begin to acknowledge the things about yourself that you like. Our minds are always so full of negative self-talk and self-deprecation. We can be our own worst enemies, so take a few moments daily to remind yourself that you’re amazing, in big and little ways alike.

If you would like to learn more about how the science of gratitude can positively impact your life, please check out The Science of Gratitude, narrated by Academy Award-winner Susan Sarandon. Gratitude is not just positive thinking and touchy-feely stuff, there is real science that backs it up. The touchy-feely is just an absolutely, wonderfully, amazing side effect of the science of Gratitude.

Author's Bio: 

This two-time author of the Law of Attraction Workbook and the motivational book Living Gratitude, Matt O’Grady welcomes you to join him on his podcast show where he teaches his clients how to live happier, more successful and gratitude filled lives. He is a former co-host on the Matt and Phil LOA Show which aired for four years. Matt is also a co-founder of a non-profit organization, Soul Brothers, that supports adults and children in need. A Psychology graduate from Hofstra University, Matt O’Grady has always been intrigued by things unseen by our human eyes, rather felt or experienced on a deeper level. In his quest to discover this deeper meaning to life, to himself and his existence in this world, he began studying and practicing the law of attraction, learning about emotional awareness and delving deeper into the ideal of consciousness and spirituality. He currently lives with his wife and 6 year old son in Huntington, New York.