Try this easy experiment and see what happens to your mood. Begin each day with three specific statements of gratitude. The holistic benefits of this small daily discipline may surprise you.

Physical: An attitude of gratitude actually leads to fewer aches and pains. It lowers your blood pressure, improves your immune system, and helps you heal from trauma. It can also release the bonding hormone oxytocin. In addition, this physiological release decreases the activation of stress hormones such as cortisol that promotes health. Who knew? Your body has a physical reaction to gratitude that makes you feel good.

Psychological: When we are grateful, we are happier overall.  According to neuroscientist Rick Hansen, gratitude helps you feel brighter and more alert. He believes that gratitude helps the brain increase dopamine which works on the planning and experience of rewards. The expression of gratitude also helps us experience more positive emotions and become more focused in life. It creates feelings of joy and happiness. Gratitude strengthens our emotions and makes us feel more positivity and it helps us bounce back from stress.

Social: Grateful people are more optimistic, outgoing, helpful and more compassionate. And don’t you want to be around people like that?  Therefore, every day, make it a goal to tell one person something for which you are grateful. And here is the bonus. Thankfulness also leads to a more generous spirit.

Spiritual: Scripture admonishes us to give thanks. When we do, our heart is full and we experience the goodness of God.

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever Psalm 118:1

And whatever you do in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to the Father through Him. Colossians 3:17

Hopefully you see that a daily dose of gratitude can change your day. The benefits are many. If you have more problems expressing gratitude, maybe write down three things for which you are grateful and notice the change in your mood. They don’t have to be big things. For example, I am grateful for a warm bed every night. I am grateful for kind neighbors. I am grateful for children who do their best at school, etc. Writing reinforces your thoughts and requires an intentional act to get your thoughts on paper.

Gratitude exercises have been shown to lift depression and make you feel better. In addition to writing down your gratitude, you can try what I am doing, intentionally speak statements of gratitude. For example, I was outside walking and the sunset was stunning. I paused, thanked God for the beauty of His creation. Or the other day, I swerved away from a car that almost hit me and I thanked God for His protection. Every day there are many opportunities to be thankful. Rehearse those moments in your mind. Like anything, the more you practice, the more habitual it will become! This Thanksgiving season, make gratitude one of your good habits.

The many benefits of gratitude