It's contagious. In research reported by Fowler and Christakis in Science Daily, when one person gives money to help others in a "public-goods game," the recipients are more likely to give their own money away to other people in future games. The gratitude and good feelings create a domino effect where the generosity of one person spreads first to three people and then to the nine people who they interact with in the future, and even to others in subsequent waves.
When you're young and in love — or lust — your brain and body are actually high on chemicals and hormones the body secretes in response to the excitement. The passion of sexual love and lust is dominated by Dopamine, that happiness and reward stuff. It's the same one that drives many addictions. But what about when the fire cools?
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When the flame of passionate, ecstatic love subsides to a steady simmer, it's the nurturing, bonding behaviors and gratitude that keep the harmony and good feelings flowing. When love mellows, simple things like smiling, eye-to-eye contact, skin-to-skin contact, caressing, cuddling, giving a treat, surprise or unsolicited compliment to our partner all generate more gratitude and Oxytocin that can nurture and sustain a relationship for the long term.
The bottom line here is this: Whatever you focus on, whatever you put your energy into, you naturally get more of. It's part of the laws of the universe, the physics of momentum. Focus on your misery, and you're bound to stay stuck in it. Focus on any scrap of goodness you can possibly find in your life and you are taking a step toward your freedom out of it.
Sometimes it's all you can do. Feeling gratitude for what you do have, even if it's little, actually shifts your mindset and your energy. It gets you out of yourself and your "poor me" state, it opens your heart and creates a new momentum that continues and amplifies, producing some truly amazing results.
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Gratitude heals. And wham bam, just like that, it can open doors that sometimes nothing else can.