Psychological health

5 Ways Gratitude Improves Our Mental Health

Read this to find out how gratitude is a gateway to motivation, satisfaction, and good mental health.
As a volunteer crisis counselor, it is clear that mental health suffers in this country.

Without exploring all the different factors that lead to poor mental health, there is one thing we can do: use gratitude to elevate ourselves. To a large extent, feeling gratitude has an effect on the brain that is associated with life satisfaction and improved well-being.

Specifically, in 2019, Chinese researchers first found nervous basis Linking gratitude to life satisfaction in a study published in the journal feelings. In the study, the structural makeup of a region in the brain called the medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC), which plays a role as the brain’s “social hub,” was affected By how grateful the study participants were, and ultimately, they determined their levels of life satisfaction.

Interestingly, the MPFC is also involved in feelings of human empathy and social decision-making. While previous studies show a connection between gratitude and life satisfaction, a 2019 study set out to establish the neuroscientific connection between the two.

5 ways to be grateful to improve our mental health

While neuroscience is aware of explaining the benefits of feeling gratitude—which is encouraged through positive psychology—there are many reasons why gratitude can have a positive effect on mental health.

Here are at least five ways gratitude improves our mental health:

1. Gratitude helps us feel appreciated.

Just like having a job that makes us feel useful and appreciated, gratitude plays a role in making us or making us feel valued in our lives. Acknowledgment, which may seem rather banal, can actually boost self-esteem and self-worth in ways that are not yet scientifically understood.

Similar to how learning and achievement make us feel good about ourselves, gratitude also makes us feel valued, thus improving self-esteem and self-worth. Outcomes likely include reductions in anxiety, depression, trauma and stress, increases in self-esteem, motivation, productivity, achievement, and more.

Read 12 sad things you should learn to be grateful instead

2. It reduces negative habits, thought patterns and feelings.

When we focus on the positive, we focus less on the negative. The result is improved joy and satisfaction, more appreciation, kindness, generosity and empathy, and more positive expressions and behaviors. Gratitude, especially when expressed as a habit, helps reduce negative habits, thought patterns, and feelings, which are often the causes of depression, panic, and fear.

It has the ability to override accumulated positive thoughts, which, similar to the way light streams through a window, can remove fears, anxieties and self-doubt. These last feelings are often the root causes of stress, many of which can be greatly quelled by a great deal of regular gratitude.

5 ways to be grateful to improve our mental health

3. It helps us relive the wonder and awe of our inner childhood.

Routine feelings of gratitude expressed for things like nature, love, and connection, for example, can help us revive our inner childhood senses of wonder and awe. Louis Schwartzberg, American time-lapse cinematographer, producer and director, discusses in his book TED Talk 2011 How gratitude can make us appreciate each new day for being so unique. From my perspective, it is as if each new day is like experiencing and seeing a new flower, a new wonder that, in turn, rekindles our inner childhood senses.

Although it sounds simple, if we see each new day in this way, our ability to motivate ourselves may become easier, with less stress, and much stronger mental health. This perspective does not come easily to each of us, but if applied and maintained, it can really help us lead a fulfilling and meaningful life.

Read how to become more grateful

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