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How can gratefulness have an empowering effect on body and mind?

Gratitude has scientifically a miraculous effect on the structure of our brain and studies have shown that feeling thankful can improve sleep, mood and immunity…..

it’s no surprise GRATEFULNESS has the power to change our whole life…. (if at the very least it only makes us just happy, this alone is enough to change our life for the better)….

Let’s take a look at how gratitude can affect our life:

Gratitude, thankfulness, or gratefulness is from the Latin word gratus. The word gratitude is defined as the quality of being thankful. It’s an emotion that expresses appreciation, and something we feel from a deep place within.

More and more people are practicing gratitude, especially now that medical science has provided valuable insight into its incredible health benefits. It is thought to be the most powerful emotionwe can experience!

So how do you know what gratitude feels like, and if you are experiencing it?

Along with feelings of profound appreciation, the emotion of gratitude leaves behind a succession of pleasant physical effects, both short-term and long-term. People often describe it as a warm, calm feeling that emanates from their heart and spreads throughout the entire body. Like a tickling feeling in the belly, an overall relaxed body or when a smile just appears on your face.

Our own experience with the practice of gratefulness is that we feel a bottomless sense of appreciation – for all and for everything. So much so that we often get teary-eyed.

Have you ever tried to sit in front of a person dear to you, looking into their eyes and telling them how much you appreciate them; sharing your gratitude for them? That truly is a deep and beautiful teary-eyed situation for so many people, also after what we have experienced during our workshops within social-emotional learing.

What we´ve basically found is this: gratitude just feels right in our body. It feels like the correct emotion to choose in any given situation. Because it shifts us into a state where we can embrace our reality with more calm, love, peace and acceptance.

Did you know that gratitude effects our brain?

As mentioned above, given our own experiences with gratitude, we do not need to be convinced any further of its positive effects. But it sure is exciting to see the scientific research that supports this claim.

In more than 20 years, a number of experiments have been conducted to investigate the power and effect of gratefulness and the impression it leaves on us. It turns out this lovely and empowering emotion is a catalyst to much personal transformation, with lasting positive effects on the brain.

In short, gratitude:

  • Increases grey matter, which is associated with better cognitive functioning, meaning that after saying just one gratitude phrase our brain can easier absorb learning and information,

  • changes the molecular structure of the brain, literally rewiring it,

  • affects the limbic nervous system in ways that regulate our emotions,

  • boosts neurotransmitter serotonin and stimulates the brain stem to produce dopamine,

  • leads to enhanced activity in two primary regions of the brain: the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) – the areas associated with empathy, decision making, impulse control, and will power.

  • It’s no wonder why gratitude is considered the most powerful emotion.

How gratitude effects our body and health:

Apart from the amazing effects on the brain, medical studies have confirmed that an ongoing gratitude practice can have the long-lasting, noticeable effect of eliminating stress, deepening and slowing down the breath, as well as relaxing muscular tension.

The list is long with positive effects the practice of gratitude has on the entire body and mind, especially since the mind and body are connected. Here are some awesome benefits noted in studies observing the effect of gratitude on our health.

Being grateful, thankful and showing gratitude:

  • strengthens our immune system

  • makes us happier,

  • improves the quality of sleep,

  • helps us release toxic emotions and manage stress,

  • lowers blood pressure and cortisol levels,

  • motivates us to take better care of ourselves, such as exercise and eat healthier meals.

Gratefulness has just the same amazing effect on adults as on children. Inviting children to daily acts of gratefulness is a gift for life.

Ideas to how can we practice gratitude with our children:

  1. Writing gratitude notes to themselves or to other family members before sleep or in the morning.

  2. Invite children to write or draw a gratitude letter to someone they want to say “thank you” to. They can give the letter to the person or not, it will still have great effect on them,

  3. Go into nature and invite children to find their own gratitude stone. One they can carry in their pocket or bag, to say/think a gratitude phrase every time they touch their stone.

  4. Make a cup of “hot-gratitude-chocolate”; inviting them to think of a something they are grateful for every time they take a sip of the hot chocolate!,

  5. Invite children to write or draw 3 things from their room they are grateful for,

  6. Breathing exercises. Inviting children to breath in deeply, all the way into the belly and imagining breathing in “GRATITUDE” to fill up the whole body and mind,

  7. Invite them to write or draw something that happened this week that really made them laugh out loud, which can bring a warm feeling of gratitude.

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