Gratitude is the feeling of appreciation for the things in life that are meaningful or valuable to us. It can be a simple thank you, a heartfelt letter, or a daily journal entry. However, gratitude can also have positive effects on our brain, especially if we have ADHD.
ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects the way we process information, regulate emotions, and manage impulses. We often struggle with motivation, self-esteem, and social skills. We may also experience rejection sensitivity, which is a severe emotional reaction to perceived criticism or failure1.
Gratitude can help us cope with these challenges by activating the emotional brain, which is responsible for generating and regulating emotions. The emotional brain can override the cognitive brain, which is impaired in ADHD and often makes poor decisions or justifies negative behaviors. By focusing on the positive aspects of our life, we can boost our mood, reduce stress, and increase resilience2.
Gratitude can also help us develop prosocial emotions, which are emotions that promote social connection and cooperation. These include gratitude itself, as well as pride and compassion. Prosocial emotions can help us build relationships, empathize with others, and feel more satisfied with our life2.
Here are some ways to practice gratitude and cultivate prosocial emotions:
- Keep a gratitude journal. Write down three things we are grateful for each day, and why they matter to us. This can help us notice and appreciate the good things in our life, even when things are tough3.
- Express gratitude to others. Thank someone who helped us, compliment someone who inspired us, or write a letter to someone who made a difference in our life. This can strengthen our bonds with others and make them feel good too3.
- Celebrate our achievements. Recognize our efforts and accomplishments, no matter how big or small. This can help us feel proud of ourselves and motivate us to keep pursuing our goals2.
- Show compassion to ourselves and others. Be kind and forgiving to ourselves when we make mistakes or face difficulties. Be supportive and understanding to others when they are in need or suffering. This can help us reduce self-criticism and increase empathy2.
Gratitude is not only a nice thing to do, but also a powerful tool to improve our well-being and happiness. By practicing gratitude regularly, we can train our ADHD brain to focus on the positive, regulate our emotions, and connect with others. So get out there and get started, you’ll see a difference in your mood and thoughts sooner than you think.
- Buzanko, C. (2023). The key to ADHD emotional regulation? Cultivating gratitude, pride & compassion [Blog post]. Retrieved from ADDitude
- Marschall, A. (2023). 5 things that motivate an ADHD brain, as a neurodivergent psychologist [Blog post]. Retrieved from Verywell Mind
- Anonymous (2021). Why I’m grateful for ADHD: Rejection sensitive dysphoria [Blog post]. Retrieved from ADDitude
- HelpGuide (2022). Gratitude: The benefits and how to practice it [Web page]. Retrieved from HelpGuide.org