According Cicero, gratitude is more than ‘the greatest virtue’ and ‘the mother of all other remaining virtues.’
There was a Psychotherapy research by Taylor Francis Online (a journal sharing platform) that gratitude can go a long way in helping us feel and act better. Meanwhile, Robert Emmons, an expert on gratitude says that, "it is an affirmation of goodness” and that “we are able to recognise the sources of this goodness are external.” With this, it has an effect on our brain and people who are grateful are happier.
Let’s delve a little deeper.
In the same study, participants who struggle with emotions managed to switch their emotions from negative to positive after a gratitude letter writing exercise. By expressing their emotions, they realise that they are grateful to those who have blessed them – it is not the lack of negative but more on focusing on positive.
When we experience this feeling of thankfulness, we can become happier even though we experience it personally; even when we don’t share it. It allows us to become at peace with ourselves even if we don’t let the other person know – though it is good to share with the person or people that you are thankful for.
All these are scientific. According to another study by Greater Good Science Centre at University of Berkeley, MRI studies also show that those who experience emotions such as gratitude activated the section of the brain involved with feelings that forges special bonds. It also stated that in a study of theirs, people who were tasked to do a charity drive, expressed more feelings of gratitude and that this correlated with more activity in the parietal and lateral prefrontal cortex of which means that gratitude is also cognitive and not just an emotional process.
However, the process of experiencing does take time. Patience is key whereby understanding the feelings of gratitude snowballs as we experience it from day to day.
In relation to that, the effects on the brain is lasting by simply expressing feelings of gratitude. This is because it helps one to be more sensitive towards other people – increasing levels of empathy as well as mental health overall over time.
All in all, gratitude develops over time and if we haven’t, why not start now with affirmations towards loved ones?
“Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.” – Voltaire, French Writer