Gratitude has been getting a lot of attention in the world of positive psychology and neuroscience. It turns out that the simple wisdom of counting your blessings has a profound impact on the brain and the body.
Just the act of seeking things for which to be grateful has a positive impact. As we shift our mental energy towards gratitude, it changes the patterns in our brain, stimulating neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine and strengthening the neural pathways that will allow us to feel more gratitude in the future.
You may have heard the saying, "Neurons that fire together, wire together." Modern neuroscience has revealed that the structure of the brain is constantly changing in response to how it is being activated by our experiences. This ability of the brain to change over time is called "neuroplasticity". The practice of consciously choosing to focus attention in order to enhance brain structure is called "self-directed neuroplasticity". The astounding fact is that having a regular practice of cultivating gratitude can change your brain — which then changes your experience of life!
A gratitude practice can be quite simple. Pick a regular time of day — such as the start or end of your day — to consciously name five things for which you are grateful. You can say them silently in your mind, aloud, or write them in a gratitude journal. As you name them, allow yourself to savor the positive emotions that are associated with them. In addition to this regular daily practice, it is helpful to cultivate gratitude in moments when you notice negative experiences like fear or worry.
Here are 25 great quotes to inspire you to cultivate gratitude in your life:
"In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy." - David Steindl-Rast
"Gratitude is the fairest blossom which springs from the soul." ~ Henry Ward Beecher
"Gratitude is the most exquisite form of courtesy." ~ Jacques Maritain
"Gratitude is the sweet fragrance of an opening heart." ~ Aine Belton
"Gratitude is when memory is stored in the heart and not in the mind." ~Lionel Hampton
"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them." ~ John F. Kennedy
"Gratitude also opens your eyes to the limitless potential of the universe, while dissatisfaction closes your eyes to it." ~ Stephen Richards
"This a wonderful day. I've never seen this one before." ~ Maya Angelou
"Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude." ~ A.A. Milne
"It is impossible to feel grateful and depressed in the same moment." ~ Naomi Williams
"Gratitude is a currency that we can mint for ourselves, and spend without fear of bankruptcy." ~ Fred De Witt Van Amburgh
"Gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder." ~ G.K. Chesterton
"If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, "thank you," that would suffice." ~Meister Eckhart
"The struggle ends when the gratitude begins." ~Neale Donald Walsch
"Among the things you can give and still keep are your word, a smile, and a grateful heart." ~ Zig Ziglar
"Joy is the simplest form of gratitude." ~ Karl Barth
"Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings." ~ William Arthur Ward
"There is a calmness to a life lived in gratitude, a quiet joy." ~ Ralph H. Blum
"At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us." ~ Albert Schweitzer
"Gratitude is not only the greatest of all virtues, but the parent of all the others." ~ Cicero
"Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow." ~ Melody Beattie
"We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures." ~ Thornton Wilder
"Wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving." ~ Kahlil Gibran
"Joy is a heart full and a mind purified by gratitude." ~ Marietta McCarty
"To speak gratitude is courteous and pleasant, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live gratitude is to touch Heaven." ~ Johannes A. Gaertner
What about you? Have you used a gratitude practice and if so, what did you learn? Please share your experiences in the comments below!