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Gratitude and Your Brain

Gratitude and Your Brain

Dear Students,

I hope your registration went well, and you're feeling good heading into Thanksgiving break. Hopefully, next week will bring you some time to decompress, connect with family or friends and do something restorative. If you're looking for something restorative, I have a suggestion.We usually think of giving thanks as something we do for other people. But there's also good reason to do it for ourselves. There's a growing body of research showing that expressing gratitude has profound effects on our mental and physical health. It's even considered a valid clinical intervention. In randomized, placebo-controlled studies, people who expressed gratitude have been found to be happier, experience less depression, exercise more and feel more optimistic. One reason for these effects is that gratitude seems to turn our attention away from negative thoughts and feelings and toward more positive ones, while increasing our connectedness with others.In the research, gratitude is defined as having two parts: the acknowledgement of something good that has happened, and the recognition that the good thing came from outside ourselves—for instance, from another person, nature or even a higher power. According to the studies, here are 3 ways you can practice gratitude:

  1. Make a short list of good things that have happened to you and the reasons why.
  2. Try an exercise called "mental subtraction": Think about a positive event in your life and try to imagine what life would be like if it had not occurred.
  3. Write a letter of gratitude to someone. Interestingly, this exercise benefits your mood even if you don't send the letter. (But go ahead and send it.)

Good luck with this last week before break. And thanks, because your commitment to science and to making the world a better place is a source of optimism and gratitude for me.

Best,

Dr. Drew

Joke: How much room does a fungus need to grow? As mushroom as possible!

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Thursday, 09 February 2023

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