There are collective studies being conducted that show the impact that gratitude has on developing neuron circuitry. We experience an increase in the release of dopamine when we are offering an expression of gratitude to someone who has helped us at work or in our home and even when we are talking about what is good in our lives. Dopamine makes us feel good. It triggers positive emotions, we feel optimistic and it fosters a sense of meaningful connection.
We also receive an increase in serotonin when we reflect on or write down the positives in our lives and at work. When we are reflecting on what we are grateful for in our lives, the anterior cingulate cortex releases serotonin. Serotonin enhances our mood, our willpower, and motivation.
Truly, the more we live from an “attitude of gratitude”, the happier we are. When we practice gratitude on a regular basis, these “gratitude circuits” become stronger and stronger. As we continue to reinforce these neuron circuits we are less likely to focus on our troubles. From a neuroscience point of view, or Hobb’s law, “Neurons that fire together wire together.” That’s where neuroplasticity - the brain’s ability to form new neuro connections throughout life - comes into play.
Sincerely focusing on a feeling of gratitude and staying in a “state of thankfulness” can rewire the brain. It’s the gift that keeps on giving. It has the power to heal the past and can bring greater levels of happiness into our lives in present time. Reinforcing an “attitude of gratitude” can be the very thing that we bring with us into the future.
In this world, there are many messages about why we are lacking and why we need more and more in order to be happy. Living from a place of gratitude helps us feel content, satisfied, and even happy with our lives. Feeling thankful for what we do have is the antidote for that constant state of discontent and dissatisfaction that the world promotes to spur on the need to continue to consume. Gratitude brings balance and is truly the antidote to many forms of suffering.
During this season of thanksgiving may we increase our focus on gratitude and share our appreciation for those we love and care about. May we express gratitude by sharing what we have been given with those who may be less fortunate than ourselves.
“Acknowledging the good you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.”
- Eckhart Tolle