Gratitude is also known as appreciation, acknowledgement, praise, grace and recognition (Ackerman). For me, it is in the simplest form of feeling happiness while making others feel it too. Gratitude is not the payment for goods, but a response to an unowed, undeserved and unexpected gift (Ackerman). Saying thank you when one helps or supports you is not gratitude, but feeling and expressing appreciation and happiness is it. (Ackerman).
When we express gratitude to ourselves we see it as an act of motivation and appreciation for the self (Ackerman). Other times when we express and experience it with our society it is viewed as a social tool, to strengthen bonds with friends or family (Ackerman). But taking the time to understand this global, ancient and religious tradition, I’ve come to the understanding that gratitude is much more than “good behaviour”.
Happy hormones, or more scientifically called dopamine and serotonin, are two neurotransmitters that manage human moods and emotions (Costa and Eske). Dopamine manages the brain’s reward system, determining our motivation, cravings and desires. Serotonin is considered a mood stabilizer while also affecting major biological functions such as digestion, blood clotting, bone health and sexual function (Eske, Scaccia). Even though both neurotransmitters are mood controllers the way they control them distinguishes them greatly (Eske). Dopamine increases impulsive behaviour, while serotonin inhibits it (Eske). Dopamine stimulates hunger while serotonin can suppress it (Eske). Therefore, a chemical balance is the key to well-being and, astonishingly, practising gratitude helps you consciously control this balance (Costa).
Here is how: When you express or experience praise, you express or experience satisfaction. As a result, you experience fewer social ills such as temptations and greed. This increases self-control and self-management that comes as an effect of a balance in our “happy hormones”(Ackerman).
Now to express gratitude, you do not need to write a gratitude journal every single day or say thank you to every single person, and always be grateful for life itself. Gratitude can come in the smallest forms. It can be smiling and bowing your head to the guards at your apartment as a simple note of respect to them, for standing outside your gates to protect you in the ways they can. It can be hugging your mom every morning or spending a moment once you wake up to be thankful for deep sleep. It can be you singing “Love Yourself” by Justin Bieber in the toilet or falling in love with yourself every time you look at the mirror. A new method to express gratitude to yourself that I learned was to kiss your brain (Costa). Literally. Take two fingers and press them on your lips and then your head. Kiss your brain for all that it’s done for you. It might not have helped you get a 7 on your math test, but it did help you laugh when your friend told a joke, or enjoy a slice of chocolate cake you might have had.
After writing all the advice, I believe it will only be appropriate for me to be grateful and finish this piece. Here are all the things I will forever be grateful for.
Thank you to my mom and dad for providing me with a home filled with love.
Thank you to my sister, for gossiping and listening to me rant all the time.
Thank you to my friends for hugging me when I get a bad grade, and making me laugh all the freaking time.
Thank you to my teachers, for answering all my questions even when I ask them at ten in the
Thank you to the coronavirus, for taking a break in your international tour so I could go to school for at least a month.
Thank you to my laptop for working all day and night.
Thank you, Padma, for being the most amazing, funniest, smartest and beautiful person you are:)
And thank you to every person reading this. It truly means a lot!
Goodbye and happy new year!
Ackerman, Courtney E. “What Is Gratitude and Why Is It so Important? [2019 Update].” PositivePsychology.com, 28 Feb. 2017, positivepsychology.com/gratitude-appreciation/.
Costa, Christina. “Kiss Your Brain: The Science of Gratitude | Christina Costa | TEDxUofM.” Www.youtube.com, TEDxUofM, 2021, youtu.be/wZWN6lfVYtw. Accessed 15 Dec. 2021.
Eske, Jamie. “Dopamine vs. Serotonin: Similarities, Differences, and Relationship.” Www.medicalnewstoday.com, 2019, www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/326090#relationship.
Scaccia, Annamarya. “Serotonin: Functions, Normal Range, Side Effects, and More.” Healthline, 2016, www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/serotonin#functions.