Happiness Begins with Gratitude

New neuroscience reveals 4 rituals that will make you happy

Best-selling author Eric Barker recently shared some insights about happiness on Ladders.com. What makes Barker’s points so interesting is the neuroscience behind them. For example, did you know that gratitude affects your brain at the biological level? Scientists have shown that feelings of gratitude boost the neurotransmitter dopamine, which is the same way that some antidepressant medications work.

Want to know more? I encourage you to read Barker’s entire article, but here’s a summary of what brain research says will make you happy:

  1. Ask “What am I grateful for?” No answers? Doesn’t matter. Just searching helps.
  2. Label those negative emotions. Give them a name and your brain isn’t so bothered by them.
  3. Decide. Go for “good enough” instead of “best decision ever made on Earth.”
  4. Give and get hugs, hugs, hugs. Don’t text — touch.

Once you’re on the gratitude path, it will lead to an upward spiral of happiness, the author explains. To get started, it could be as simple as sending someone a thank you email or text message.

Is gratitude really that powerful? Barker thinks so. He concludes with these observations from UCLA neuroscience researcher Alex Korb:

Everything is interconnected. Gratitude improves sleep. Sleep reduces pain. Reduced pain improves your mood. Improved mood reduces anxiety, which improves focus and planning. Focus and planning help with decision making. Decision making further reduces anxiety and improves enjoyment. Enjoyment gives you more to be grateful for, which keeps that loop of the upward spiral going. Enjoyment also makes it more likely you’ll exercise and be social, which, in turn, will make you happier.

 

Mindfully yours,

 

Dr. Pamm