The Science of Gratitude

By Dr Olivia Naturals Support • October 05, 2020

Could you use a gratitude boost? If you’ve found yourself feeling a little blue, lacking motivation, or struggling to get going, getting grateful could be the key to a powerful reset.


In this post, I’ll share some of the science behind why you should consider adding a daily gratitude practice to your health regimine. I’ll also share some of the ways I practice being grateful on a regular basis. Let’s dive in!

Science Of Gratitude

Gratitude isn’t just a fleeting feeling. It’s a powerful emotion that you can harness with incredible health benefits.

In fact, research from Northeastern University found that people who think of 3 good moments or things that happened that day see considerable improvements in overall happiness, sometimes in as little as a day!  

And one cognitive scientist, Susan Peirce Thompson, even said, “If there were a drug that did this, whoever patented that drug would be rich.”

Why? Because when you feel grateful, that’s actually your body releasing neurochemicals and hormones like dopamine and other endorphins. 

This response is why you feel happy and might even smile when you’re thinking of things you’re grateful for. It can be so powerful for some people that they even report feeling a slight tingling feeling when practicing gratitude. 

But it gets even more powerful. Because when your body is producing more of those “feel-good” hormones, it also produces less chemicals like cortisol that make us feel stressed.

Some research suggests gratitude can lower cortisol levels by up to 20%. 

This is a key reason why many scientists believe feeling grateful can play a key role in the healing. One study found that people experience fewer aches and pains and report feeling healthier than others. So quite literally, gratitude has a direct effect on the amount of stress and inflammation in the body. 

The point is, when you’re feeling grateful, your body thanks you, too. 

How To Be More Grateful (What I Do)

Once you know being grateful is powerful for your health, you might wonder, “How do I make being grateful a daily practice?”

I like to set aside 5 minutes in the morning — no phones, no guilt — to write down three things that I’m grateful for.  

This exercise takes just a few minutes but it can have a profound impact on the rest of your day. 

Because when you do this, your body will start producing feel-good endorphins, which promotes a better mood and health all day. I believe it’s the best way to start the day and give yourself a boost of happy hormones! 

Another great option is to go for a walk in nature. There’s nothing more calming than a nice, crisp morning walk. And when I’m walking, I love to take in the gifts in nature that God has placed on this earth. I take a few minutes to say thank you for each of them. 

Finally, you can try saying a short prayer before bed of all things you’re grateful for before bed. That’s enough to trigger those good-for-you hormones and get you feeling amazing!

Three More Simple Ways To Introduce More Gratitude In Your Routine 

  1. Start a Gratitude Jar. This one’s a lot of fun and can provide a great pick-me-up whenever life gets you down. All you need is a jar, a pen, and some paper. Then, carve out a time during the day to think of three things you’re grateful for. It can be something as simple as having a working shower or as grand as getting that pay rise. Once you have your three, simply write them down on a piece of paper and put it in the jar. When enough time passes, you’ll have a full jar! And if you’re ever feeling down one day, dip into the jar and read a few notes to remind you of what’s good in your life.
    gratitude jar
  2. Commit to saying “Thank You” at least once a day. The good things in our life soon become our “normal,” and we can forget how vital they are to our current happiness. 

    Taking the time to say “thank you” to someone can help make us more aware of our good fortunes and help us remember to appreciate them, no matter how small.

    It could be a beloved family member who you talk to everyday or the friendly cashier at your supermarket. Just make sure it’s someone different every day! 

  3. Show appreciation to yourself. 💓  The hardest one of all! It’s easy to show love to someone else, but how about giving some of that love to yourself? We can be so hard on ourselves that we forget where we came from and the joy that we bring to the lives of others. Try this: Once a day, put yourself in the shoes of someone who loves you and give yourself the experience of showing gratitude for yourself through their eyes. It could be...

    - Acknowledging the positive impact you make in someone’s life
    - Thanking yourself for making an effort to be healthier
    - Choosing one thing you’re proud of yourself for
    - Appreciating a physical or personality feature of yourself

Whatever your daily routine looks like, try to include at least one of these methods of showing gratitude. I’m 100% certain that if you stay consistent, you’ll start to notice a positive shift in your outlook on life and well-being.

So What’s The Final Verdict On Gratitude Science? 

The research shows gratitude isn’t just a fleeting feeling. It’s a strong emotion that you can harness with incredible health benefits. 

And the fact is when you feel more grateful in life, you’re happier, likely to experience burnout and in better health, both physically and mentally

Of course, the best way to know how being grateful could affect you is test it out for yourself!

Try to commit to a daily gratitude practice for a week and report back here with how you feel.

My guess is you’ll never want to skip a day of experiencing this incredible feeling again.