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Your Health, Your Brain & the Power of Gratitude — A Key to Happiness, 1 of 1

001 GratitudeWhat makes gratitude so powerful?

Gratitude is an emotion we use to express appreciation and thankfulness and joy in response to receiving a gift. It’s much more, however.

A powerful agent, gratitude can propel us with unstoppable momentum to find ways to express, exclaim and proclaim it to the world, or another person, perhaps shouting from the rooftops!

Words may not suffice to express gratitude, but this cannot stop us from trying.

According to researcher and professor of psychology Dr. Todd Kashdan at George Mason University, it is one of three critical ingredients for living a happy life. The other two ingredients are: meaningful 001 Gratitude3relationships and living in the present, Kashdan reports in an article, Key to Happiness, published in the journal Psychology and Sociology.

Gratitude may be the main ingredient, however. Other studies find gratitude adds meaning to our relationships and there are surprising connections to our general wellbeing as well. Even romantic relationships get a significant boost when partners practice small acts of every day gratitude; it appears to increase chances of sustaining partner’s personal level of happiness and romantic connection with one another.

Simply put, gratitude makes us healthier.


001 Gratitude2In the words of Cicero, “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.”

In a nutshell, gratitude is simply the fastest, easiest, most powerful way for you to create healthy feel-good feelings in and around yourself life — as well as others, at any time or moment. If that’s not pure power to create and sustain happiness, what is?

What’s more … when we share our thoughts and feelings out loud, or write them down, paint them, sing or dance them, and so on, potentially, this can effect the biochemistry of our brains and bodies in ways that not only bathe the cells of our body with nourishing hormones, but also transform our feelings of gratitude into multidimensional power-blasts of physio-feeling states that deepen our sense of meaning, purpose and connection to life in and around us.

Again, wow.

We take so many of our blessings of health, love, and the many acts of kindness of others or our own — and Life — for granted. The present moment, now, is a great time to start anew, experiment or reach for the stars in yet another way.

Why not take a stand, for example, stating emphatically, “No more, not I!”

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to declare today and each day of this New Year, and years to come,

001 Gratitude6“I am grateful for the countless blessings in my life today. Regardless the circumstances around me, I always look for what I am grateful for.

I am thankful for my life and the special people in my life, sending heartfelt wishes and blessings, I recognize them as amazing and magnificent beings, and am ever grateful for their presence and unique contributions.

I am grateful for the way Life teaches, supports and grows me to realize my potential and, at the same time, to appreciate the potential of others’ and the unique ways each person expresses their love in this vast wondrous Universe.

I’m grateful for the way in which the uniqueness of others around me challenges, grows and stretches my capacity for compassion and wisdom, acceptance and understanding.

The statements above may not change life instantly, but they can instantly change how you feel, and this translates into changes in the actions you take. Together, your feelings, thoughts and actions have the power to transform and optimally change the direction of your life and happiness.

If still not persuaded, consider the work of Dr. Robert Emmons, one of the leaders in the field of research on gratitude. Dr. Emmons enumerates the many benefits of gratitude in a book titled, Thanks! How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier.

001 Gratitude5In his words, “Life is a Gift–Thanks!”

Do you have any habits of judging your life, self and others as not warranting appreciation  — that keep you stuck “waiting” until you, others or “things” are just-so before you feel free to live in appreciation?

If so, consider shifting away from any old stuck patterns, and instead, becoming more and more aware of even the tiniest inconsequential things you experience each day to appreciate.

Either way, gratitude is not a mere option. Living is gratitude … is an activity, like breathing, moving, eating nourishing foods and drinking pure clean water … that is designed to keep breathing Life into your life. It’s always there to nourish, enrich your life by deepening your connection to life around you, and Life within.

It’s your job to keep replenishing the flow of Life in your life.

It’s up to you to resolve to disallow judgments from causing you to miss out.

The commitment is yours to make, and the most important time is always the present moment, now, beginning life anew grateful for even the smallest of blessings in your life … your eyes, your ears, your legs, your hands, your breath…

In Part 2, more on gratitude and making it a practice.







Your Health, Your Brain & the Power of Gratitude — A Key to Happiness, 1 of 1

Athena Staik, Ph.D.

Relationship consultant, author, licensed marriage and family therapist, Dr. Athena Staik motivates clients to break free of anxiety, emotion reactivity, and other addictive patterns, to awaken wholehearted relating to self and other. She is currently in private practice in Northern VA, and writing her book, What a Narcissist Means When He Says 'I Love You'": Breaking Free of Addictive Love in Couple Relationships. To contact Dr. Staik for information, an appointment or workshop, visit, or visit on her two Facebook fan pages DrAthenaStaik and DrStaik

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APA Reference
Staik, A. (2014). Your Health, Your Brain & the Power of Gratitude — A Key to Happiness, 1 of 1. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 20, 2020, from


Last updated: 2 Jan 2014
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