The Surprising Science of Gratitude

Xperience Growthblogposts

Expressing gratitude is one of the most powerful tools that we can use to affect our wellbeing.

This is not simply my opinion. It’s backed-up through extensive scientific research over the past 2 decades. The findings are surprising how much we benefit from practicing gratitude.

A peer-reviewed article in Positive Psychology says that studies show 4 ways gratitude affects our brain:

  • Fosters cognitive restructuring to lead to positive thinking
  • “Wires and fires” new neural connection to the “bliss” center of the brain
  • Reduces fear & anxiety by regulating stress hormones
  • Enhances dopamine & serotonin – the neurotransmitters responsible for happiness

The article says “by consciously practicing gratitude everyday, we can help these neural pathways to strengthen themselves and ultimately create a permanent grateful and positive nature within ourselves.”

Simply said: practicing gratitude changes our brain to deliver us more positive feelings.

Another study conducted by researcher Dr. Martin Seligman, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, tested the impact of various happiness creation strategies. The study tested various positive psychological markers (mood, nutrition, exercise) of the participants. Each week, a group was asked to do different assignments. One assignment was to write and deliver a “thank you” letter to someone in their life who they felt was not properly thanked. When compared to the control group of simply writing about an early childhood memory, the group that sent the letters saw the most significant increase in happiness scores over the control group than any other methods tested in the study.

Here’s the surprising part of the study – the positive effects of the letters lasted longer than a month. One letter of gratitude gave a month of elevated happiness.

You might be thinking “sure Carter… gratitude helps you become happier, but I can’t grow my business from happiness.” And if that’s what you’re thinking, well you’d be misguided.

A study from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania randomly divided university fund-raisers into two groups. The first group made phone calls to ask alumni for donations in the same way they always had. The second group received a pep talk from the director, who expressed her gratitude for their efforts in making calls. During the following week, the fund-raisers who heard her message of gratitude made 50% more fund-raising calls than those who did not.

Imagine the impact of 50% more key activities in your business as you close out your year.

Bottom line is this: research shows that when you practice gratitude consistently your brain changes. Those changes support you in experiencing more happiness from the inside out and therefore the propensity for increased perseverance, mood and focus.

Want to know what my simple daily gratitude practice looks like, check out this video.

I am grateful for you allowing my thoughts and words into your mind each week! THANK YOU!