Exercise Your Gratitude Muscle!

Exercise Your Gratitude Muscle!

Want to know what practicing gratefulness can do to enhance your life? A recent study out of Indiana University focusing on how gratitude affects the brain produced some very interesting results!

Forty three participants undergoing counseling for anxiety and depression were divided into two groups—one who’s treatment continued as was, and the remaining were given a gratitude writing assignment. After the counseling was over, the experiment continued with another assignment focusing on gratitude that involved the act of giving.

Afterward, brain scans revealed that those practicing gratitude exhibited neural activity that looked quite different than other positive emotions such as empathy, suggesting that gratitude seems to be a unique emotion.

Even more exciting, a few months following the experiment, brain scans of the participants that practiced gratitude revealed that the neural-activity patterns not only continued, but also had increased. Similar to how physical exercise leads to increased muscle strength, the study shows that making a conscious effort to feel grateful increases our capacity to be and feel grateful. These people seemed to have developed the habit of living with more gratitude.

For those that may be conflicted about intentionally choosing to have a positive attitude despite feeling otherwise, think about this. Focusing on feeling grateful does not mean you pretend to not feel discomfort or pain… it simply means that you choose to shift your focus on something that makes you feel good. And when we feel good, we spread those feelings on to others too.

To see how practicing gratefulness affects you or your family, take our 21-day gratitude challenge.

Directions: Download this link, print and cut out the segments to create separate slips. For the next 21 days, using focused attention and visualization, write down what you are grateful for. To make the exercise even more powerful, infuse what you write with the feeling of gratefulness.

Activity for Families: Share the love by having each family member collect what they are grateful for in a jar every day of the week. At the end of the week, schedule family time to share, taking turns to read the messages for each day of the week.

Tell us how your challenge went!
Please share your results of the 21-day Challenge by posting below on this blog, on our Facebook page, or by joining and posting on The InnerGuide Support Group for Success!