Jim Kwik Logo



In the US, Thanksgiving marks the official start to the holiday season. The day itself is meant as a time to express gratitude. As you sit with friends and family, enjoying a delicious meal, it’s easier to take a moment to pause and give thanks. It might seem like an indulgent celebration, focusing on food, football, and shopping, but spending time with the people you love has a positive impact on your brain. Whether you travel to visit family, spend a fun night out with friends, or set out to make your own traditions, remember to take a moment and practice gratitude—it’s good for your brain.

Reduce symptoms of depression

The benefits of gratitude have long shown the same results: practicing gratitude in your daily life reduces the symptoms of anxiety and depression. Your brain is primarily a filtration device, and you direct where your attention and focus goes. When you focus on everything you don’t have, that’s what you notice all around you. But when you redirect your thoughts to focus on the positive aspects of your life through appreciation and gratitude, your brain will shift to notice more of those elements in your daily life.

Go into the holiday’s with a list of everything you’re grateful for and update it as you move through the season. Find something to be thankful for every day and notice how taking a moment to acknowledge that gratitude changes your mood and outlook. Wish people a happy holiday, hold doors open, smile at strangers, and take a moment to pay kindness forward by helping others in whatever small way you can.

Improve relationships

It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life. Work demands take precedent, school projects and after-school activities eat up the evening hours, and weekends are spent catching up on everything you didn’t quite have time for during the week. The holiday’s are often the one time of year when visiting friends and family is finally a priority. While this can sometimes lead to increased stress, studies show being around people you love can actually improve how your brain functions.

When you express gratitude for the people in your life, you strengthen both the social and familial bonds. It redirects the focus away from negative irritations or past hurts, and helps you appreciate the positive aspects of how they impact your life. This helps reduce stress, can lower symptoms of depression, and leads to feeling more supported in your daily life.

Feel better

Multiple studies show the link between subjective well-being and gratitude. One of the primary reasons for this is when you focus your attention on positive emotions and events, you promote and encourage more positive emotions. Instead of feeling like things go wrong, you start to believe that things can go right. It builds your emotional resilience, which allows you to bounce back from unexpected obstacles and difficulties faster and with more confidence.

This becomes even more important during times of stress. And while the holiday’s can bring a lot of reasons for positive emotions, it can sometimes highlight negative ones, too. It’s important to continue building your positive frame of mind. Set healthy boundaries, make sure you have a plan to help mitigate stress, and don’t forget to do things that recharge your emotional spirit. When you embrace gratitude, you not only feel better about yourself, you increase your self-esteem, find your purpose, continue your personal growth, and gain clearer perspective about what’s most important to you and how you can hold onto it.

Lower stress

One of the most commonly touted benefits of gratitude is that it lowers stress. But it does more than that. When you practice gratitude, studies show you not only lower stress levels, but you actually decrease your overall stress response. That means you’re less likely to succumb to increased stress when faced with difficult or unforeseen problems in the future.

While being grateful during the holiday’s may come easier than other times of the year, taking the time to celebrate the wins and appreciate the small moments throughout the year is just as important. You can practice during the holiday season by focusing on the tiny moments or actions instead of the bigger, more obvious ones. By shifting your focus away from the main events, you train yourself to recognize the quiet space in between, and that’s much easier to carry throughout the year.

Get quality sleep

It should come as no surprise that practicing gratitude improves your sleep. With lower cortisol levels, your brain can produce more melatonin, promoting your body to adapt to your natural circadian rhythm. A study out of the University of Manchester found that this improved quality of sleep happened regardless of personality types or individual differences.

Quality sleep leads to better cognitive functionality, improved mood, and better health—many of the same benefits a daily gratitude practice provides. When you exercise gratitude daily, your physical and mental health both improve. This means you can be more present, show up more fully for the people in your life, and enjoy your time with them in a deeper, more meaningful way.


The holiday season is a mixture of both being thankful and celebrating. And both have a positive impact on your brain. As you move through this holiday season, take a moment to find reasons to be thankful. You’ll laugh more, sleep better, and feel happier. Remember, what you appreciate, appreciates. So, find reasons to embrace gratitude in your holiday celebrations in both big and small ways. Your brain—and your loved ones—will thank you.

If you want more Kwik Tips on how to make gratitude part of your daily routine, check out this video:


In 2009, the UN designated International Humanitarian Day as a way to embody the idea that anyone can be a hero. Celebrated every year on August 19, the day is both a way to honor those who have lost their lives working on humanitarian causes and encourages everyone to recognize ways they can give back in their daily life.

It’s easy to look at a police officer, firefighter, doctor, or nurse and recognize their heroic deeds. But what about the person who helps a stranger in a store? Or shares their umbrella at a bus stop? Being a hero is more than volunteering time or engaging in a specific career, it’s helping others everyday in situations big and small.

You’ve heard us say, reasons reap rewards. And there’s a reason helping others feels so good. It’s hard-wired into our neurology. So let’s dive into three reasons why you should become a real life hero.

Embrace Kindness

When you are kind to others, your brain releases three neurochemicals in response. The first chemical is oxytocin, the brain’s love chemical. This is the hormone that bonds you to others through love. Oxytocin elevates your trust levels, encourages you to be generous, and helps you become friendlier. When you engage in random acts of kindness, your brain releases oxytocin, which then triggers the rest of your reward centers.

The second chemical released is dopamine, the feel-good neurochemical. This hormone induces a pleasant state of short-term euphoria, which helps your brain reinforce the activity you just engaged in. Dopamine is strongly tied to your reward center. That’s what helps you develop habits. The more you engage in kind acts, the better you feel, which encourages those actions to become things you do frequently.

Your brain then releases a third hormone, serotonin. This hormone stabilizes mood and is generally attributed to your sense of happiness. Normal levels of serotonin helps you stay calm and focused in stressful situations, which leads to better outcomes.

This powerful combination helps sustain overall levels of happiness and life satisfaction. Both are incredibly motivating. When you live a life filled with acts of kindness and purposeful service, your brain chemistry works to encourage you to continue. You feel happier, fulfilled, and satisfied, triggering you to want to engage in kindness more. It’s a wonderful cycle. And one that’s easily introduced into your daily life.

One of the easiest ways to embrace kindness is simply working on how you see the world. We all get frustrated with our spouses, kids, co-workers, and even strangers. The next time you find yourself cursing the slow driver in front of you, or the co-worker who dropped the ball on a project, take a moment and reframe their behavior in a positive light. Instead of driving slow to irritate you, maybe they have a sick baby in the car or at home. When you change your frustration and outlook, you’ll be kinder to the person in response. And those small acts will not only make you feel better, they’ll make a world of difference to those around you.

Practice Gratitude

Gratitude also releases dopamine and serotonin. However, unlike with kindness, you only need to focus on your internal gratitude or express external gratitude to trigger these releases. That makes gratitude a powerful source of happiness and mental well-being that you can do anytime.

Every time you practice gratitude, you reinforce the neural pathways that release these neurotransmitters. And the more they’re released, the more entrenched these pathways become. And because these neurochemicals also work to reduce stress, improve memory, and stabilize your emotions, gratitude can be an effective tool to help redirect your mind and recenter your focus.

The beauty of gratitude is the multitude of ways in which you can express it. Every time you say thank you when someone opens a door or smile at a stranger, you release these feel-good neurochemicals. You can use gratitude when you’re stressed or frustrated by simply pausing and finding something to be grateful for. It disrupts the negative thought patterns and can help shift your mindset and outlook in that moment.

Gratitude not only reduces stress and anxiety, it also activates the part of your brain associated with altruism. The more you express gratitude, the more you want to give to those around you, which then gives you more to be grateful for. It’s a cycle that sustains itself and leads to a happier, more fulfilled life.

Other ways you can express gratitude is by keeping a gratitude journal. Every night end the day with three things you’re grateful for, and on tough days, review your previous entries. You can keep a gratitude jar, where you add to the jar daily and pull a piece of paper when you need a reminder. Write thank you notes to friends and families, or send random gratitude letters to those who mean the most to you.

When you take the time to reflect what you’re grateful for, you start to notice more of the abundance around you. It helps change your perspective and your mindset. Expressing gratitude not only increases your happiness and satisfaction, it also helps you find focus and clarity. And that helps you discover your purpose.

Unlock Purpose

It’s common to mistake passion for purpose. And while passion is vital in finding your purpose, it isn’t the sole ingredient. On one of our podcast episodes, Jim interviewed Jay Shetty, author of Think Like A Monk. Shetty also hosts his own podcast, On Purpose, and often discusses the purpose recipe. Passion + Service = Purpose.

Before you can plug in the formula, you have to start by embracing the sparks of curiosity. Curiosity can lead to finding things we’re passionate about. But as we all know, passion does not always lead to purpose. You can find your interest waning for a variety of reasons, but stomping out creativity by adhering too stringently to rules or waiting for the perfect moment will likely end in your passion fizzling out.

Researchers believe that the primary function of curiosity is to stimulate learning. And learning stimulates growth. When you allow the sparks of creativity to lead you down a path of learning, you can discover not just your passion, but also your purpose. And when you include kindness, generosity, and gratitude in your daily life, they can become the fuel that drives your passion and purpose forward.

When you find your purpose, you become an inspiration for others. Even if you aren’t saving lives, you never know who is watching and how you’re motivating or encouraging them to follow their curiosity and passion to discover their purpose. Your overall well-being improves, which improves everything from your productivity at work to forming deeper, more intimate relationships at home. In short, unlocking your purpose helps you become an everyday real life hero to everyone in your life.


Becoming a real life hero doesn’t require traveling the globe or engaging in monumental feats. By embracing kindness, practicing gratitude, and discovering your purpose, you improve the lives of everyone around you. This ranges from immediate family and friends, but also to those you work with, people you live around, and anyone else whose lives you unknowingly touch.

If you want to hear more about Jim’s real-life hero story, watch this video: