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  • Marcy Kocher

How Gratitude Changes Your Brain

Updated: Jan 21

Ready or not, 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 how you will think, feel, show up, and experience them, no matter the circumstances.


Instead of jumping into the chaos of the holidays and allowing them to take over your life, what if you could do them peacefully and joyfully?


I’m here to tell you you can, and gratitude is the first step in that process.


Gratitude is a feeling of thankfulness and appreciation we create with our thoughts.


Thanksgiving is when we intentionally think thoughts that create the feeling of thankfulness.


It’s pretty cool that we have an entire holiday devoted to gratitude.


I love that Thanksgiving is the first of 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 you focused on giving thanks every day?


It would rewire your brain and help you 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 eighty, and found that people who practice gratitude, consistently report a host of benefits:



Physical

  • 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


Psychological

  • Higher levels of positive emotions

  • More alert, alive, and awake

  • More joy and pleasure

  • More optimism and happiness


Social

  • More helpful, generous, and compassionate

  • More forgiving

  • Feel less lonely and isolated

  • More outgoing”


Who doesn’t want a healthier, happier life?


 

This probably isn’t news to you. You’ve grown up being told to be grateful.


But what you aren’t told is that saying thank you or having a gratitude journal isn’t enough.


You must practice gratitude in a meaningful way.


You must 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 your brain believes is important, your brain sends chemicals down into your body.


That chemical creates a feeling, which then sends chemicals back to your brain.


This is the process of neuroplasticity, or the ability of the brain to reorganize and create new connections.


In the case of gratitude, those thoughts trigger dopamine and serotonin, feel-good chemicals.


Chemicals that signal to the brain to do that again.


The more you practice this, the more you strengthen that neural pathway.


And then you become a grateful, peaceful, joyful person.


When you become a grateful person, your brain will look for and even create things to feel good about.


Gratitude changes your brain.


And when you feel better, you do better, and when you do better, your life becomes better.


What a beautiful cycle to live in.


 

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.


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