Gratitude as an Antidote for Dissatisfaction
By: Dr. Kathleen Costello
An antidote is something that counteracts something else. In a way, it’s alchemical. Alchemy is defined as a seemingly magical process of transformation, creation, or combination. Gratitude is both alchemical and antidote. In a somewhat magical way, it transforms our feeling state. It is almost impossible to feel angry, resentful, or dissatisfied if we invite gratitude into the equation. How is gratitude so powerful? Because it literally changes your brain.
In a research study conducted by Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, fMRI data showed changes in the medial prefrontal cortex of the brain when participants took part in two distinct gratitude exercises. This area of the brain is associated with moral and social cognition and decision-making. This and other research show that the emotion of gratitude supports a positive and supportive attitude toward others and can relieve stress.
The field of positive psychology has expanded the research and emphasis on gratitude practices as a way of increasing happiness. Gratitude is linked to a greater sense of well-being, increased optimism, better relationships, improved self-control, and physical health. Who doesn’t want those benefits? As you can see, this simple shift towards an attitude of gratitude is quite magical. There are many gratitude practices. An easy one is thinking of three things you are grateful for in any moment, particularly in moments of dissatisfaction. If you want to make the practice more impactful, write the three things down one time each day. Research shows that writing down what we’re grateful for increases its positive effect. Why not give it a try and see if gratitude works for you?