Giving Thanks and the Healing Power of Gratitude

“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgiving, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” 


While all of us enjoy the feeling of receiving and expressing gratitude, new research shows that a regular practice of giving thanks actually improves our wellbeing. In the article “The Neuroscience of Gratitude and Effects on the Brain,” Madhuleena Roy Chowdhury, BA, explains how a regular practice of gratitude helps our brain, our emotions, and, to some extent, our physical wellbeing. 

Our brain releases serotonin and dopamine, our “feel good” hormones when we practice gratitude. We can increase the times in the day we are feeling content or happy by developing a regular, daily habit of expressing gratitude leading to a more positive life outlook. 

“Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions.” 

-Zig Ziglar 

Studies show that regularly practicing gratitude activities can reduce our brain’s release of the stress hormone cortisol, helping us manage stress and build resiliency to challenging circumstances. Over time, further studies show that frequently expressing grace actually teaches our brains to better regulate our positive and negative hormones to improve our overall sense of wellbeing. 

As the year adjourns, we can reflect on joyful experiences, accomplishments, blessings, and moments of grace we gave and received – and wonder with excitement the gifts 2023 will bring. 

What are your favorite ways to express gratitude? You may be surprised to learn that you already have a regular practice with this list of activities to consider: 

  • Keep a gratitude journal
  • Display a gratitude jar – feeling thankful? Write it down on a scrap of paper and put it in your jar. When it is ready to be emptied, re-reflect on the notes before starting over with a new jar. 
  • Create a gratitude “wall” in your home by tacking up paper and inviting others to write notes of thanks on your wall. 
  • Plan regular visits of thanks. Make a habit of scheduling a visit to a person to whom you feel grateful and reminding them, again, how they have enriched your life. 
  • Try practicing Grokker’s meditative breathing allowing yourself to reflect on what you are most thankful for at this moment. 
  • Set a goal of thanking a random stranger for an act of kindness one time per day and allow that moment of grace to sink in. 

About the Author: Kali Schlieman, MPH, is a certified fitness trainer and health coach with over thirty years of collaborating with people to achieve their best health through self-discovery, education, and laughter! She has two children in college and lives with her husband on their urban farm, where she teaches friends and neighbors to grow their own food. She enjoys cycling, hiking, reading, and going on adventures with family and friends.


The Neuroscience of Gratitude and Effects on the Brain,” Madhuleena Roy Chowdhury, BA, 

The Neuroscience of Gratitude, Hannah Rogawski, LMSW from

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