Positive Effects of Gratitude on the Brain

Our brains are affected by gratitude. When we are grateful, our brains release dopamine. This makes us happy and helps us focus on the good things in life.

The many benefits of gratitude are becoming more and more well-known.

When this strong emotion is transformed into thoughtful actions, both the giver and the recipient can profit.

This brings up some questions for us.

  • How does being thankful work?
  • Does being thankful modify the brain?
  • How does thankfulness affect the brain?

This article explains how showing gratitude can positively impact you and the people you care about.

How Does Gratitude Work?

When expressed in many forms, gratitude is linked to joy and contentment. Whether we are giving or receiving it, this is true. The beauty of gratitude lies in precisely that. It is advantageous to all parties concerned.

There are many ways in which gratitude and happiness are related. Happiness is the most prominent of the positive emotions that are brought on by expressing gratitude. Optimism, self-worth, empathy, selflessness, and spirituality are other feelings. All of these paths lead to unadulterated joy.

Practicing gratitude is not just for those in our immediate vicinity. Even when directed at ourselves, it can perform a miracle. To make our lives simpler and more tolerable, we could all use more self-kindness, forgiveness, and understanding.

Gratitude can cause a cascade of happy feelings that can result in many positive things in life, such as better health, a more robust social network, and higher productivity.

How does gratitude affect the brain?

Numerous clinical studies have established beyond a shadow of a doubt the link between gratitude and the brain.

The right anterior temporal cortex, a region of the brain associated with creating and preserving long-term memory by ingesting visual and verbal information, deals with the moral judgments related to feelings of gratitude.

It has been discovered that individuals who feel gratitude have more gray matter in their right inferior temporal gyrus. Because of the neurochemical differences in the Central Nervous System, some people experience gratitude while others do not.

Having gratitude can make you feel delighted and content. This can be explained physiologically as the release of the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine. The “feel these two neurotransmitters bring on good” emotion.

These neurotransmitters boost our mood and make us happy when they are present in our bodies. This turn of events has several effects, including lowering fear and anxiety by regulating the stress hormone and promoting positive thinking to restructure our fundamental knowledge.

Regular gratitude builds new neural connections to feel good emotions like satisfaction and happiness. A sustained positive and appreciative behavioral pattern can be formed in us through conscious and regular gratitude practice.

Some of the benefits of gratitude on body functions and psychological conditions are:

  • Gratitude strengthens the immune system
  • Gratitude reduces stress and makes us feel more relaxed
  • The act of counting blessings can foster a greater sense of well-being and calm
  • Grateful people are less likely to experience anxiety and depression
  • Regular gratitude practices can increase our resilience in the face of difficulties and setbacks
  • Gratitude improves our sleep quality and overall physical health
  • Grateful people are more likely to experience positive emotions and increased levels of happiness
  • Gratitude makes us feel more connected to others and builds social bonds
  • Expressing gratitude can enhance our career satisfaction and job performance
  • Practicing gratitude can lead to a greater sense of life satisfaction and overall well-being

Does gratitude change the brain?

Numerous studies and analyses have been conducted on this subject and all point in the same direction. Yes, cultivating gratitude causes changes in the way that the brain is wired.

It has been established beyond a shadow of a doubt that gratitude expressions alter the brain’s neural architecture. Positive feelings like happiness and contentment are produced as a result. The expression of “feel good” hormones are sparked by practicing gratitude and showing appreciation for others, resulting in a positive outlook and a stronger immune system.

Numerous studies indicate that practicing gratitude stimulates the brain’s reward system. As a result, our perspectives on the world, the people in it, and ourselves change.

When we express or receive gratitude, our brain concentrates on the present. Something we would have otherwise overlooked or forgotten. This puts the focus on the present and encourages mindfulness or present-moment living.

Neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine are released when our attention shifts to the blessings and the present moment. These are the ones that regulate our feelings, levels of fear, stress, and anxiety. The levels of happiness, motivation, and contentment rise as a result.

Psychological Effects of Gratitude

Recent research has demonstrated the undeniable link between gratitude and mental health. It has long been known to be advantageous for healthy, adjusted individuals. According to these studies, cultivating gratitude may help those dealing with mental health problems.

Gratitude practice significantly impacts the recovery and rehabilitation of people with psychological conditions when combined with counseling. The mental focus is shifted from negative to positive emotions, which is one of gratitude’s main psychological advantages.

Most mental health issues are caused by a person’s inability to let go of or get away from negative thoughts. Negative thoughts breed more negative thoughts, creating a challenging cycle to escape.

We experience positive emotions when we express our gratitude, which compels the mind to concentrate on these feelings and divert its attention from the negative ones. When you express gratitude to others or think about how happy you are, you break the cycle of negative thoughts and make others feel happier.

Your mind finds it more difficult to dwell on the negative after that break. That is most likely all the mind needs to free itself.

According to studies, even when you don’t express your gratitude to others, it still positively affects your life. For instance, you are writing a letter of thanks to someone who has helped you but not sending it or delivering it to them. Even if the subject of your gratitude is unaware, it effectively treats psychological problems.

In most cases, gratitude doesn’t have an immediate impact. It is not a quick-fix panacea that solves problems in a flash. Gratitude’s beneficial effects build up over time to make a noticeable difference. It takes persistence, time, and patience to fully benefit from appreciation.

Although the advantages of gratitude may take some time to manifest, they are found to have lasting effects. Recent research suggests that cultivating gratitude makes the brain more susceptible to its long-term consequences. Gratitude, therefore, has a long-lasting psychological impact on the brain.


Gratitude has many benefits for psychological well-being. It can boost moods, increase resilience in stress, and promote pro-social behavior. However, gratitude is not a quick fix for all problems. Its benefits take time to build up and be fully realized.

But the effects of gratitude are long-lasting, making it a valuable tool for improving mental health.

Being grateful leads to increased happiness and fulfillment, better health and interpersonal relationships, and a more loving and compassionate perspective on the world. We can effectively improve the lives of others and ourselves with straightforward words and deeds.

By directing our self-expressions of gratitude inward, we can better understand and accept our talents and qualities. This can enable us to reclaim control over our lives and lead them as we see fit.


How does gratitude affect mental health?

Gratitude has been linked with lower levels of anxiety and depression, greater happiness, more resilient coping mechanisms for stress, and improved sleep quality. Furthermore, gratitude may act as a protective factor against developing mental health problems.

What are the benefits of gratitude?

The benefits of gratitude include:

  • Increased happiness and life satisfaction.
  • Improved physical health.
  • Better sleep.
  • Decreased anxiety and depression.

Gratitude also helps people to feel more connected and less alone.

How do you express gratitude?

There are many ways to express gratitude. You can say “thank you,” give a hug, write a note, or perform a random act of kindness.

Can gratitude rewire your brain?

Yes, gratitude can rewire your brain for happiness. When you regularly express gratitude, you train your brain to focus on the positive, which can lead to increased happiness and life satisfaction.

What are areas of the brain activated when we practice gratitude?

The areas of the brain activated when we practice gratitude include the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and adrenal glands. These areas are responsible for regulating stress, metabolism, and blood pressure. When we express gratitude, these brain areas are stimulated, leading to increased feelings of happiness and well-being.

What chemical does gratitude release?

Gratitude has been shown to release the chemical oxytocin, which is responsible for feelings of happiness, love, and connection. Oxytocin is also known as the “cuddle hormone” because it is released when we hug someone or experience any physical touch.

Why is gratitude important in neuroscience?

Gratitude is essential in neuroscience because it can help to improve our overall well-being. When we feel grateful, we stimulate the brain’s areas responsible for regulating stress, metabolism, and blood pressure. This can lead to increased feelings of happiness and well-being. Additionally, gratitude has been shown to release the chemical oxytocin responsible for feelings of joy, love, and connection. Oxytocin is also known as the “cuddle hormone” because it is released when we hug someone or experience any physical touch. Therefore, gratitude not only can improve our mental state but can also positively impact our physical health.

About me

Hi! I’m Petri. Author and Manifestation Coach. My mission is to help people with big dreams (like yourself!) manifest their greatest desires.

I'm a photographer, filmmaker, and webdesigner and have been working for 20 years in the creative industry. Fascinated by manifesting for business reasons, I was determined to find out what it took to create success. I started my "career" with seven years of business failures before I found success by learning about manifesting from a mentor with a Fortune 500 company. Today I share the knowledge through DreamMaker courses designed to help people change their businesses and lives while living on their terms.

Read My Story here.

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