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Easing the Journey Through Shadow & Light

  • Dawn

The Latitude of Gratitude

Anti-Anxiety Tool of the Week: Gratitude (Which Research Shows Can Reduce Anxiety)

There's some great research on gratitude out there. As noted in an article on the Positive Psychology website, studies show that gratitude "enhances dopamine and serotonin, the neurotransmitters responsible for happiness [and] reduces fear and anxiety by regulating the stress hormones." That's pretty impressive.

In an article in Psychology Today neuroscientist and author, Alex Korb, has this to say: "National Institutes of Health...researchers examined blood flow in various brain regions while subjects summoned up feelings of gratitude....They found that subjects who showed more gratitude overall had higher levels of activity in the hypothalamus.This is important because the hypothalamus controls a huge array of essential bodily functions, including eating, drinking and sleeping. It also has a huge influence on your metabolism and stress levels." Not to mention anxiety.

By the way, I highly recommend Korb's book, The Upward Spiral: Using Neuroscience to Reverse the Course of Depression, One Small Change at a Time. He manages to share lots of research while keeping things short, sweet and comprehensible, as well as practical.

To round out this collection, here's another great article on research into the benefits of gratitude.

The URLS for the research seeds for this tool were in my September 22, 2021 blog post. Here's the Index of all toolkits. And The Mini-Toolkit: For Those with Little or No Time.

The Latitude of Gratitude

I have enjoyed using the somewhat cutesy (but memorable) phrase, "an attitude of gratitude." And what did I realize today? I can actually live there as well--at the latitude of gratitude. Every day.

One day shy of a year ago, as part of my post on Twenty-Seven Varieties of Gratitude, I referred to what's known as the "21 Day Gratitude Challenge" which offers a question a day for 21 days to encourage reflection. In that post I listed a few of those 21 questions, as I do here. Today I also share a few of my responses. Here's a a link to a PDF of all 21. There are, course, six other varieties of gratitude included in last year's post.

Day 3: What do you take for granted?

  • The oh-so-foundational ABCs. I always forget they are the basis of every piece of writing I do, patient servants, underlying everything, never needing to bring attention to themselves individually.

  • The water that runs through my faucets; the faucets themselves.

  • A lickety-split, unexpected lift of laughter.

Day 11: What made you smile today?

  • The soft pulse of a butterfly as it stopped to feed.

  • A nice hug when I was feeling a little weedy and needy.

Day 14: When has nature taken your breath away?

  • When the shapes and slides of a sunset surprise me, so beautifully different every day.

  • When I see a bug so well disguised I can barely distinguish it from the flower it rests on.

Day 19: What can you say thank you for in this very moment?

  • In this very moment I am glad I can sit up, muse, hear music between my ears, cheer for a rabbit nibbling my lawn, lie down and take a nap, take my knapsack full of fears, letting a few spill out along with some tears, and know I am loved, here inside, as I am, as we ride this planet on its journey through the years.

Until next time,


Photo credits:

Grateful man, Marcus Paulo Prado, unSplash

Water from the faucet, Silvan Schuppisser, unSplash

Sunset, D. E. Hunt



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