There are so many self-help gurus out there telling us how to become happier. Some techniques may work for a while, but I prefer to trust the science of happiness. Dr. Korb has been analyzing happiness and the neuroscience behind what makes a person happy. It turns out that one major factor in being a happy person is being grateful. Dr. Korb’s work in this field has found that practicing gratitude will actually change your brain chemistry. When you are grateful consistently your brain produces more dopamine and serotonin. These chemicals are what the drug companies target to increase production of in a person’s brain who is suffering from depression. We can help ourselves naturally increase dopamine and serotonin production by practicing gratitude. How do you do this?
- Look on the bright side of any situation, regardless of how bad it may seem. It is difficult for your brain to focus of both positive and negative things at the same time, so choose to focus on the positive. Example- You were in a terrible car accident and your vehicle is totaled. Instead of focusing on those facts, be grateful that you are still alive. Be grateful you have insurance to fix your vehicle. And whatever else you can conjure up to focus on the positive of the situation.
- As you go throughout your day pause from your busyness to acknowledge things in your day and life to be grateful for. It can be the simplest things to be grateful for such as your cup of coffee, your warm bed at the end of the day, the sun shining, or just the beauty found in the environment around you. Be thankful for the big things as well, such as your family, home, God, etc.
- Show gratitude to those around you. If your child is being helpful, for example, by putting away their laundry, thank your child and praise them for their efforts. Be thankful for your Spouse/ Partner. Vocalize to them your gratitude for them in your life. Some things that you can say: “Thank you for loving me so much”, “thank you for being so supportive with…(be specific)” and, “thank you for your help with…(be specific)”. Be genuine and sincere in your thankfulness toward others.
- When someone shows you gratitude acknowledge and thank them for it. For example, when someone thanks you for your help, don’t just brush it off. Accept their thankfulness with a statement such as “you are welcome”.
- Avoid the negatives: This means things like gossip and criticism (whether it is of yourself or toward others) are to be avoided. If you do it, don’t beat yourself up about it, just vow to do better and move on.
- Give to others. You will find yourself being grateful for your situation and life when you give to others who are less fortunate. Give not only monetarily, but doing volunteer work to help others who are less fortunate is much more beneficial to you in finding gratitude for your life.
- Be happy for others. Curb jealousy and learn to compliment others for their successes. Give others a pat on the back when they do something great. Acknowledge the happiness that others are finding in their lives, help them celebrate their successes and guess what may happen? Others, including perhaps them, will be there to help you celebrate your successes as well. Positive actions tend to breed positive reactions, so let’s make an effort to keep things positive!
Gratitude is a practice. Choose to practice being positive and grateful for your life and circumstances and you WILL be a happier person. You don’t have to believe me, believe the science that says it is true…Check out work by Dr. Korb on this topic: