Why is Gratitude so Helpful?

December 1, 2022

By Grace Lozano, Resident in Counseling

Let’s talk about the neuroscience of gratitude. “Gratitude” has become a common buzzword in the mental health sphere, but why is it so helpful? Sometimes – when we’re wavering over the decision to implement a new habit – it helps to understand the science behind why these so-called-helpful-things are, well… helpful.

As it turns out, gratitude actually changes the brain. When we express gratitude, our brain experiences an upsurge in the “feel-good” chemicals, dopamine and serotonin. And when we practice it on a daily basis, we actually end up strengthening these pathways in our brains so that these “feel-good” states become much easier to access. Gratitude also engages the prefrontal cortex, which is the part of our brain that (when it’s online) helps us to manage negative emotions, such as anger, fear, and sadness. Studies have shown that these changes in the brain have had a plethora of positive effects: reduced physical pain, better sleep, increased stress regulation, and a decrease in anxiety and depression. Talk about a great deal!

Here are a few ways that you can practice gratitude moving forward:


  • Each day, think of 3 things that you are grateful for.
  • Start a gratitude journal.
  • When you notice gratitude naturally arises within you during the day, pause. Pay attention to that feeling.
  • Show your appreciation to someone who did something nice.
  • Tell the people in your life what they mean to you.

Until next time, Be Wise!