But how important is gratitude, really, other than the warm and fuzzy feeling we get when someone admires us or we receive a gift? Beyond simple manners, why is gratitude in relationships so important?
Believe it or not, there is even chemistry involved in the act of giving and receiving. "Tis better to give than receive" is one of the most famous verses in the New Testament and apparently, now it's been proven.
Jordan Grafman and his team of scientists have demonstrated that giving a present to someone else actually feels better than receiving one. Giving a gift activates Dopamine and Oxytocin releasers, those feel good neurotransmitters we all crave, whether we're addicted to love, sex or something else.
Dopamine, the neurochemical associated with reward and happiness, gets stimulated by receiving. But the interesting thing is that when someone gives, as to a charity, for instance, the same places in the brain light up and are more stimulated then when people receive rewards. The neurochemical here? Oxytocin, the nurturing one.
Controlled experiments observing acts of kindness, like gift giving, also demonstrate that there are always three people who benefit from any interchange of this type: the giver, the receiver and the observer. Giving and receiving each stimulates their own chemistry in the brain but even being a witness to generosity initiates a cascade of neurochemicals that wash the observer in good feelings.
Scientists affirm that practicing gratitude actually alters the neurochemistry of our brain, decreasing physical pain, increasing alertness, supporting better, deeper sleep, promoting overall well-being. Continue reading ...