How Gratitude Changes Our Brain
The holidays are upon us.
How would you like to experience them this year?
Did you know you get to choose?
You get to decide ahead of time how you will think and feel and show up and what you will create for yourself no matter what the circumstances.
Instead of jumping into the chaos of the holidays and allowing them to take over your life, what if you could do the holidays from a place of peace and calm?
You can, and gratitude is the first step to that process.
Gratitude is a feeling of thankfulness and appreciation that we create with our thoughts.
Thanksgiving is a holiday where we intentionally think thoughts that create the feeling of thankfulness.
It’s pretty cool that we have an entire holiday devoted to the practice of gratitude.
And I love that Thanksgiving is the first in the holiday season.
And if we allow it to, it could set us up to experience the whole season from a place of peace and ease.
But what if we focused on giving thanks every day?
It would rewire your brain and help you to have more of what you want in your life.
Robert Emmons, Ph.D., and leading gratitude expert, conducted research and states, “We’ve studied more than one thousand people, from ages eight to 80, and found that people who practice gratitude, consistently report a host of benefits:
Stronger immune systems Less bothered by aches and pains
Lower blood pressure
Exercise more and take better care of their health
Sleep longer and feel more refreshed upon waking
Higher levels of positive emotions
More alert, alive, and awake
More joy and pleasure
More optimism and happiness
More helpful, generous, and compassionate
Feel less lonely and isolated
Who doesn’t want a healthier, happier life?
This probably isn’t news to you. We’ve grown up being told to be grateful.
But what we aren’t always told is that saying thank you or having a gratitude journal isn’t enough.
We must practice gratitude in a real and meaningful way.
You have to believe it in your mind and feel it in your body.
You have to take the time to savor the thought until you feel it in your body.
That’s when the magic happens.
Because when you think a thought that your brain believes is important, your brain sends chemicals down into your body.
That chemical creates a feeling, and that feeling then sends chemicals back to your brain.
This is the process of neuroplasticity, or the ability of the brain to reorganize or create new connections.
In the case of gratitude, those thoughts trigger dopamine and serotonin, feel-good chemicals. Chemicals that signal to the brain, do that again.
The more we practice this, the more we strengthen that neural pathway.
The more we become a grateful, peaceful, joyful person.
When we become a grateful person, our brain will look for and even create things to feel good about.
Gratitude changes our brain.
And when we feel better, we do better, and when we do better, our life becomes better.
Gratitude is a skill that takes practice, but it’s simple, it’s free, and it can powerfully transform your life.
Life will always have its ups and downs, but you get to choose how to think about them and how to respond to them.
And that decision will dictate your experience.
There’s always something to be grateful for.