5 Ways Expressing Gratitude Positively Affects Your Brain

How does expressing gratitude affect the brain?

Let’s take a few seconds and think about one thing we feel grateful for. I, for one, am grateful for all the kind and loving people in my life. What about you? I’m sure you’re familiar with the feeling of gratitude. But what is it, exactly, and what are the effects of expressing gratitude?

1. Increased Dopamine

When we express gratitude, the brain releases a surge of dopamine. This happiness hormone gives you a natural high, creating good feelings that motivate you to repeat specific behaviors, like expressing gratitude even more.

2. Increased Serotonin Production

3. Improved sleep quality

Studies have shown that practicing gratitude activates the hypothalamus. This helps us get deeper and healthier sleep.

4. Better stress regulation

People who feel grateful show a reduction in the level of cortisol, the stress hormone. They had better cardiac functioning and are more resilient to emotional setbacks and negative experiences.

5. Activation of the Brain’s “Altruism” and Reward System Regions

A recent study found that practicing gratitude activates a part of the human brain — the ventromedial prefrontal cortex. Activating this part of the brain triggers a craving for giving.

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