Gratitude involves pausing to place yourself in the present long enough to appreciate what’s there. “While your brain is wired to seek out the negative to keep you safe, gratitude is a simple way to rewire your brain to see the bigger picture,” therapist Ashleigh Edelstein, LMFT, tells mbg.
A 2015 study1 published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology shows that feelings of gratitude are linked to the anterior cingulate cortex and medial prefrontal cortex—regions of the brain that influence our decision-making, willpower, motivation, and mood. Choosing to see the good in our lives can lead to better sleep, more empathy, less burnout, and more satisfying relationships.
Moreover, practicing gratitude is our chance to step away from the hamster wheel of self-optimization that the current culture says is necessary to be happy.
“It’s a way of actually enjoying the space that you’ve made for yourself,” art therapist Amelia Hutchison, DKATI says. “It’s a way of extending beyond wellness that only serves our personal interest and connects it back to the people around us, the spaces around us, and the communities we belong to.”