Start The New Year With An Easy 4-2-1 Gratitude Practice - It’s Never Too Late Coaching

Start The New Year With An Easy 4-2-1 Gratitude Practice

Gratitude changes everything. Want to rewire your brain for the better?  Read on.

Study after study has shown that it is not happiness that brings us gratitude. It is gratitude that brings us happiness.

Gratitude may be a gesture or a group of kind words that we give or receive from others. These simple exchanges of thankfulness go a long way in positively affecting our overall biological functioning – especially the brain and the nervous system.

The effect of gratitude on the brain is long lasting.

Besides enhancing self-love and empathy, gratitude significantly impacts body functions and psychological conditions like stress, anxiety, and depression.

“Be thankful for what you have, you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never ever have enough.”

~ Oprah Winfrey

Gratitude releases toxic emotions.

The limbic system is the part of the brain that is responsible for all emotional experiences. It consists of the thalamus, hypothalamus, amygdala, hippocampus, and cingulate gyrus. Studies have shown that hippocampus and amygdala, the two main sites regulating emotions, memory, and bodily functioning, get activated with feelings of gratitude.

A study conducted on individuals seeking mental health guidance revealed that participants of the group who wrote letters of gratitude besides their regular counseling sessions, felt better and recovered sooner.

The other group in the study that were asked to journal their negative experiences instead of writing gratitude letters reported feelings of anxiety and depression.

Gratitude reduces pain.

Counting Blessings vs Burdens (Emmons & McCullough, 2003), a study conducted on evaluating the effect of gratitude on physical wellbeing, indicated that 16% of the patients who kept a gratitude journal reported reduced pain symptoms .  And, they were more willing to work out and cooperate with the treatment plan.

A deeper dig into the cause revelaed that by regulating the level of dopamine, gratitude fills us with more vitality, thereby reducing subjective feelings of pain.

Gratitude improves sleep quality.

Studies have shown that receiving and displaying simple acts of kindness activates the hypothalamus which regulates all bodily mechanisms controlled by the hypothalamus, and sleep is a vital one.

Hypothalamic regulation triggered by gratitude helps us get deeper and healthier sleep naturally everyday.

Gratitude aids in stress regulation.

Another study of gratitude and appreciation found that participants who felt grateful showed a marked reduction in the level of the stress hormone cortisol.

They had better cardiac functioning and were more resilient to emotional setbacks and negative experiences.

Significant studies over the years have established that by practicing gratitude you can handle stress better than those without one.

By merely acknowledging and appreciating the little things in life, we can rewire the brain to deal with the present circumstances with more awareness and broader perspective.

Gratitude reduces anxiety and depression.

By reducing the stress hormones and managing the autonomic nervous system functions, gratitude significantly reduces symptoms of depression and anxiety.

At the neurochemical level, feelings of gratitude are associated with an increase in the neural modulation of the prefrontal cortex.  This is the part of the brain responsible for managing negative emotions like guilt, shame, and violence.

As a result, people who keep a gratitude journal or use verbal express gratitude, are more empathetic and positive minded by nature.

Gratitude rewires your brain.

The Mindfulness Awareness Research Center of UCLA stated that gratitude does change the neural structures in the brain, and make us feel happier and more content.

Feeling grateful and appreciating others when they do something good for us triggers the ‘feel good’ hormones and regulates effective functioning of the immune system.

Scientists have suggested that by activating the reward center of the brain, gratitude alters the way we see the world and ourselves.

Dr. Alex Korb, in his book Upward Spiral mentioned that gratitude forces us to focus on the positive sides of life.

When we give and receive ‘thank you’ notes, our brain is automatically redirected to pay attention to what we have.  This can produce intrinsic motivation and a strong awareness of the present.

At the neurochemical level, gratitude acts as a catalyst for neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine – the ones that manage our emotions, anxiety, and immediate stress responses.

You can find a list with books exploring the positive aspects of gratitude here.

Grateful people can derive more happiness and pleasure in daily life.

As mentioned by G.K. Chesterton in his famous agricultural metaphor, the pursuit of true happiness is much the same as cultivation. We won’t get the desired result unless we nourish and nurture the seeds properly (Chesterton, 1986).

The effects of practicing gratitude are not immediate, and they don’t appear magically.

But once started, gratitude continues to impact our physical and psychological well-being for years.

We know how to experience and express gratitude.

All we need sometimes is a little reminder of how powerful and vital gratitude exercises are. Dr. Amit Kumar revealed an interesting fact in his research on gratitude exercises (Kumar & Epley, 2018).

In the study, participants were asked to leave notes to people who meant a lot in their lives – for example, teachers, spouse, or friends. And these notes were not small papers saying ‘thank you’.

They had to be detailed and more in-depth. Surprisingly, participants could finish writing lengthy gratitude notes in less than five minutes, and reported feelings of contentment after doing so.

Psychologist Christina Costa speaks about the power of gratitude.

And for good measure, listen to what psychologist Christina Costa has to say.  She studies well-being and speaks from a scientific as well as her personal perspective as she applies her research to herself when faced with a brain cancer diagnosis.


Now I want to introduce you to the easy 4-2-1 Gratitude Practice that I use to launch my days.  I have dedicated a special notebook for this practice.

It’s quick and oh so easy!

Write down 4 different people, places, animals or things for which you feel gratitude.

Say what it is about each object of your gratitude that inspires your appreciation.

Allow yourself to marinate in the thoughts and feelings you have about the objects of your appreciation.

Send blessings and love to 2 people.

Fold your hands over your heart.  Take a deep breath.

Name two people to whom you want to send your heartfelt blessings and love.

See an imagine of them cradled in your heart.

Allow you heart to surge with appreciation, love and blessings for them.

Choose 1 deeply desired experience, goal, outcome or achievement you’d like to accomplish.

Imagine yourself focused on that goal or outcome.  Imagine some aspect of what it looks like to have achieved it.

What could you be doing today to bring you closer to achieving that result?

Keep asking yourself, “What else could I do?”  “What else?” until you are at peace with your answers for the day.

Do you feel a calling to explore more about who you’re capable of becoming?

I’d like to accompany you on your journey as your coach and guide.

My Whole Life Coaching program could be just what you’re looking for to intentionally create your best life, just as you define it.

Whatever you’re longing to create in 2023, I can help you navigate all the challenges and overcome the obstacles that could be standing between you and your heartfelt desire.

A year from now, what will you wish you had started today?  Really think about that. The time will pass whether you begin or not.

Think of where you could be this time next year if you started today.

Want more info?  Email me now at:  joanna{at}joannagoodwin{dot}com.

We can schedule your 45 minute FREE Strategy Call.

Let’s dig in and explore the possibilities   Year 2023 is a blank slate.  What will you choose to write upon it?

If someone you know would appreciate today’s message, please share.



Share this post

Share this post

Enter your name and email to get into my weekly Newsletter

We respect your privacy and will never sell or share your information.