Antonio Giordano emphasizes the profound impact of gratitude on both mental and physical well-being. Recent studies underscore the role of gratitude (expressing appreciation for those who contribute positively to our lives) in triggering the release of serotonin and dopamine. These neurotransmitters, which regulate happiness and pleasure, activate circuits that promote general happiness and health.
The benefits of practicing gratitude extend beyond the emotional well-being. Giordano points out that gratitude has the power to reduce stress and anxiety levels, influencing crucial psycho-physiological aspects such as cortisol regulation. Lowering cortisol levels, especially during stress, is very important as in fact elevated levels of this hormone can contribute to cardiovascular diseases, water retention, and weight gain.
People practicing gratitude tend to be happier and establish more meaningful personal and professional relationships. Giordano notes that practicing gratitude can also induce the production of endorphins, contributing to psycho-physical well-being. This positive "state of grace" can boost the immune system, thereby increasing resistance to infections. Research by Monica Barlett and David Zeno demonstrates that those inclined to practice gratitude not only enjoy better overall well-being but also live longer and empathize more easily, engaging in pro-social behaviors.
Moreover, the ripple effects of gratitude extend to improving sleep patterns, fostering inner peace, and heightening self-awareness. Giordano highlights the role of positive psychology in examining the characteristics of individuals practicing gratitude, defining them as people with more optimistic outlooks on life.
While science recognizes the physiological and hormonal consequences of unhappiness, especially associated with neurotransmitter and hormone imbalance, Giordano emphasizes that cultivating gratitude offers an alternative pathway to happiness. In cases where pharmacological therapy is necessary, acknowledging and appreciating positive aspects of life, both in others and oneself, becomes a conscious choice that contributes to overall well-being.
Professor Antonio Giordano, M.D., Ph.D., is the creator and head of the Sbarro Health Research Organization, located at Temple University's College of Science and Technology in Philadelphia. Stay connected with him through his various social media platforms, including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram, to receive the latest updates.