NOV 22, 2018 3:48 PM PST

The science of gratitude

On a day like Thanksgiving, it is easy to remember all that we are thankful for. But for a while now scientists have been trying to crack the code behind the hard science of gratitude. What researchers have determined is that gratitude is actually extremely powerful because it activates the reward center of the brain, and thus has the capability to change people’s behaviors.

Professor of psychology at Northeastern University explained on NPR: "Gratitude is an emotion that we feel when we believe that someone or something has given us something that we couldn't easily achieve on our own. It's there to change what we do next. People tend to think that gratitude is this passive thing — 'Oh, somebody helped me in the past and that's great.' But the reason we have any emotion is because it is designed to change what we do next, to be powerful in that way. So what gratitude does is it reminds us that other people — our parents, our friends, our family — have helped us, and therefore we feel that emotion and it makes us want to pay them back and to go above and beyond.”

Incorporating gratitude as an attitude in your life can bring you more happiness, improve your mental health and your outlook on life. So why not make every day Thanksgiving?

About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
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