I have had a personal, clinical and research interest on the power of gratitude for some time. The research on the power of a gratitude mindset now provides solid data for how beneficial and life changing it can be. There is strong neurological evidence that neural circuits can be primed to create stronger feelings of connection and that brain structures can be changed to enable more positivity. Think of it as a mental exercise, focusing on gratitude with intentionality. Dr. Brent Atkinson, a researcher who works with couples therapy, describes a technique that involves sitting for just five minutes daily while concentrating on good feelings and happy times they have had with their spouse. By doing so the feelings of connection are strengthened. He encourages couples to send a daily sentence completion email to their partners with two sentences:
One thing you did lately that I appreciated was….
One moment when I felt extra positive about you was….
Dr. Atkinson writes that scans show that when people share positive emotions there is a natural sync up process that occurs and they experience greater feelings of love. Taking it a step further, research shows tremendous benefit to the one who is expressing gratitude, in the manner of it is better to give than to even receive.
It may take deliberate effort to shift to positive mindset, one that is dedicated to acknowledging gratitude daily, I can attest to the emotional, mental, relationship, benefits of a gratitude based mindset.
Make February a great time to make a daily habit of positive focus and gratitude. Not just on Valentine’s Day, but every day!
For more on gratitude I suggest reading: “The Gratitude Diaries”, by Janice Kaplan.