Gratitude is celebrated throughout philosophy and religion; recent scientific studies suggest it carries significant benefits for our mental and physical health. But very little is known about what actually happens in our brain and body when we experience it.
Why does that matter? Because better understanding the physiology of gratitude can help pinpoint strategies for harnessing its health benefits and help people understand the importance of fostering this powerful emotion. The goal of my research has been to lay the groundwork for understanding what happens in the brain when we feel grateful—and a picture of the grateful brain is now starting to emerge.
Better understanding the physiology of gratitude can help pinpoint strategies for harnessing its health benefits
When I first embarked on the journey to study gratitude, I came across philosophical treatises and religious exhortations emphasizing the importance of gratitude, along with scientific studies suggesting that gratitude can improve your sleep, enhance your romantic relationships, protect you from illness, motivate you to exercise, and boost your happiness, among many other benefits.