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7 ways being grateful is good for your brain

The whole gratitude thing has been a hot topic for a while - but if you haven’t got on board yet, here’s a few reasons why you should.

Thanks for chilling out

Being grateful makes you nicer, even when people around you are being douchebags. In this study from 2012, people with higher gratitude ratings were less likely to retaliate in negative situations, were more sensitive and less likely to be vengeful.

Thanks for more happiness

Through the act of being grateful, you’re able to process and reduce toxic emotions like envy, resentment, frustration and regret. In doing this, according to gratitude researcher, Robert Emmons; you’re able to make room for feelings of joy, love and optimism. He actually found that 10 weeks of writing in a gratitude journal can boost happiness up to 25%.

Thanks for better self-esteem

This may sound contradictory, but the more appreciative you are for other people and things, the more you are able to accept appreciation from others, and even yourself. Studies on gratefulness have shown upswings in athletes self-esteem - which is key for performance, and another showed a reduction in participants comparing themselves to other people.

Thanks for a good night’s sleep

A study from 2011 showed that the act of writing in a gratitude journal for 15 minutes before bed can help you sleep better and longer. I write 3 things that went well today with my wife. (If sleep is a struggle for you, check out this post from a few weeks ago about the three key vitamins you need for better sleep.)

Thanks for more mates

Minding your p’s and q’s - well, especially q’s, is not only the right thing to do according to my mum, but also makes us more likeable to prospective friends, according to this study. Loneliness is rife right now, so if a simple thank you email, or acknowledgment to the guy that held open the door for you is a potential for new connections, we’re all in.

Thanks for a healthy body

Walking, as we know, is great for getting our creative juices flowing, and grateful people are more likely to take care of their bodies, exercise more, and feel fewer aches and pains. So, gratefulness = more movement, and more movement = more creativity. Win, win.

Thanks for building resilience

Gratitude not only reduces stress, but can also help us to get over trauma. Resilience is a complicated thing (we broke it down here), but taking note of of all you have to be thankful for, even in the shittest times can help you to build it. In this study on Vietnam War Veterans, they found that higher levels of gratitude correlated with lower rates of PTSD.

What’s being grateful anyway?

Being grateful is, habit-wise, one of the easier ones to get into. It takes less than 15 minutes, and has pretty much zero set up costs. Every evening in a notebook, or using an app like this one, write down three things you’re grateful for. It doesn’t need to be from that day, and it can be anything from the smell of freshly cut grass, to what you had for dinner - anything that makes you feel thankful. If you want to be a pro at this, you can even try to get specific about why you’re grateful for that particular thing, but start with a simple thanks, and reap the benefits from there.

FOR THE NERDY: So long, and thanks for all the science.

[Source: Psychology Today]

Think fast (your 10 second snippet of science to impress your next meeting/party guests/Uber driver):

Next time someone is rude to you, find a reason to thank them. Maybe you'll inspire them to do the same and it'll have a ripple effect that makes everyone 25% happier.

Heights Ingredient Highlight:

DHA Omega 3

Vital for the function of every cell in the body, but especially for the brain and eyes - DHA omega 3 is key for the function of your frontal lobe. It helps with functions like processing information, memories and emotions and has been linked to a reduction in symptoms of depression.

In every dose, you’re getting over 300mg, the equivalent of 1oz of salmon.

PB Hot Chocolate

At the start of the year, when everything's a bit bleak and there's still over a week until pay day - you just need some comfort, right? This next-level hot chocolate recipe from @the_hardihood ticks alllll the boxes, while still maintaining our #brainfirst sensibilities.

"This creamy adaptation of everyone’s winter favorite is like cashmere socks for the soul. Go heavy on the peanut butter for extra frothiness and only share with those you really, really like. A heart opening, hand-warming hug in your favourite mug, think Reese's Pieces on heat." - Daisy from The Hardihood

Why is it good for my brain?

Everyone's favourite antioxidant, cacao could help increase blood flow to the brain, help with brain function, and protect against neurodegenerative diseases. Peanuts are a great source of Vitamin E (yep, that's in Heights Smart Supplements - so you know it's legit), and may help to boost mood and alertness. While adding a dose of sweetness, antioxidants and anti inflammatories, dates can also help to reduce amyloid beta proteins in the brain which cause the plaque build-up potentially responsible for interrupting communication between brain cells.

See Full Recipe
Shop Ingredients
Elevation Station
Part one of Netflix miniseries, The Mind, explained looks at how memories work. And, if, like me you struggle to remember certain things - maybe it’s not such a bad thing. (netflix)
The Source, by our Chief Science Officer, Dr Tara Swart, gets into the neuroscience of how to change your brain and live a better life. (amazon)
Our Chief Wellness Officer, Dr Rangan Chatterjee is the host of the excellent Feel Better, Live More podcast. He’s dedicated to talking about the science of health in a simple, down-to-earth way - you can see why we get on so well. (spotify, iTunes)
Author Matt Haig for musings on current events, and positive, well-written mental health content.

Final Thoughts

This week I got mugged/jacked/had my phone stolen whilst texting my mum, doing my usual walk home after work. I was gutted.

Right now - #brainfirst or not - the sheer amount we have to do is starting to creep up on both Joel and I. We're completing a funding round, in our launch month and hiring our first 5 team members (could you be one of them?), for which we've had 800+ applications... so it's fair to say this timing wasn't ideal.

Next to me, a stranger was just helping his wife, and baby in a buggy into his house, he saw this happen and immediately tried to jump to my rescue. "Mate, if you want, let's jump in the car and try and catch up to him," said Pete.

We almost caught him too, but in the end the traffic lights caught us out. In the meantime, Pete was so full of sympathy for what had happened to me and really tended to my emotional state, making sure I was alright.

As he let me out again, he gave me a hug, his number for the crime report if needed and wished me a good evening.

In my heightened emotional state, he had very quickly turned my irritation and self pity into appreciation and admiration for how lovely and supportive strangers can be. I came home in remarkably good spirits, full of gratitude - hence the topic for this week's email.

The moral of the story? Don't text my mum. (Just joking mum, chill out).

Kindness to strangers suffering a wrongdoing of any sort, can completely change their mindset to the situation and turn negative feelings to sheer appreciation and... gratitude.

Here's to people like Pete 👍

Until next week tribe,

Dan

"When you read something, you learn it once, but share it and you learn it twice"

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