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Gratefulness Shapes Your Brain:

Tips on How to Bring the Practice of Gratitude into Your Family’s Daily Life

During this time of year, it is typical to hear folks talking about things they’re thankful for. November is a season of reflection, gratitude, and mindfulness. But did you know that an attitude of gratitude can have more of an effect than just giving us warm fuzzies this holiday season? Taking on a more positive perspective can create our reality, and research backs this up!


Grateful people:

  • Use more positive emotion words and fewer negative emotion words

  • View experiences with a positive perspective

  • Can often find a greater sense of appreciation for others

  • Focus less on materialistic or false pursuits

Martin Seligman, the founder of Positive Psychology, ran a test where 411 volunteers were required to write a letter of gratitude to someone each week. The participants demonstrated a substantial increase in happiness scores, which was the most impactful intervention of his study. From this exercise, the participants’ happiness benefits lasted over one month! Noting and showing appreciation shifts our mood and reframes our perspective of the world.


When you write or talk about what you’re grateful for…

  • Your brain releases oxytocin and endorphins.

  • Relationships are nurtured between the person giving and receiving the kind words of appreciation.

  • You train your brain to spot the good in yourself and others more readily than the negative.

  • You’re more likely to experience better overall mental health.


Here are some tips!

Tip #1: Encourage your children and yourself to share an act of kindness.

Tip #2: Take mental notes of the kind gestures others do for you and what you do for others. No gesture is too small!

Tip #3: Keep a gratitude journal (written, video, or audio) and document 1-3 things you’re grateful for AND your feelings surrounding them. If jotting your thoughts down becomes the obstacle, acknowledge them aloud!

Tip #4: Write a spontaneous thank you letter with your children.

Tip #5: Set aside just a few moments each day to be still and meditate on what you notice: sounds of nature, steam rising from your warm cup of morning coffee, a sweet text with a friend, etc.


In the spirit of gratitude, we send a BIG thank you to our amazing community of followers, colleagues, students, and families. We are so grateful for all of you and wish you a beautiful Thanksgiving holiday! However you spend this Thanksgiving, take a moment to look around at all the things you have to be grateful for! Perhaps a spirit of gratitude is the best gift we can give AND receive this holiday season!



Resources:

How Gratitude Changes You and Your Brain

Positive Psychology and the Science of Happiness with Martin Seligman


Written by Jenny Aguilar (M. Ed., ET/P) and Geneva Walsh (M. Ed.)




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