Neuroscience and Gratitude: A Natural High

Did you know that gratitude strengthens the mind-body connection through the positive effects that occur when you feel the emotion of being grateful?

Gratitude can act like a natural antidepressant, increasing your levels of dopamine, serotonin and relieving anxiety and pain.

Various scientists and psychology researchers have investigated the physical effects of gratitude on the human mind. It showed that gratitude can be a real change in people’s lives.

You don’t need to get bogged down in technicalities to understand that when you channel your energy towards things you are grateful for, your vibrational frequency rises. You shift your mind towards positivity.

Scientifically, you stimulate neurotransmitters in the brain (specifically, dopamine and serotonin) that increase feelings of happiness and peace. In short, positive emotion creates significant improvements in your physical body.

Let’s investigate how gratitude does this…

Hebb’s Law states that “neurons that fire together wire together” which means that the neural pathways you practice more often are the ones that will remain dominant in your brain. When you activate the same thoughts, you engage the same neural pathways or circuits. If you start to change your thoughts and focus towards gratitude, you activate different neural pathways or circuits in your bra, in which they get stronger the more they are used.

This is how you can use the brain’s ability to form new neural connections to change your reality.

Neuroscience and Gratitude: A Natural High

The challenge lies in the fact that we are creatures of habit; it is much easier to keep going on the same old round as the day before, that is to repeat the well traveled neural pathways we always use. Turning your attention to the positive and finding reasons to be grateful creates new neural connections and circuits. The more you repeat feeling grateful, the stronger that gratitude circuit will be in your brain. It’s all about repeating thoughts and focused attention to create a positive emotion over and over again until it becomes your default.

Increased dopamine and serotonin

The good news is that your mind will help you with that shift towards positivity. When we feel the positive emotion triggered by gratitude, the brain releases dopamine and increases serotonin production, both of which cause a natural high and cultivate positive feelings that help motivate you to express gratitude again.

Dopamine helps you feel happy, and when you feel happy and positive, you are more likely to take positive action in your life, increase positive behavior and pass the positivity on to those around you. It’s pretty much a win-win for everyone!

Serotonin is another mood enhancer; the power of will increases and gives us the drive and determination to continue creating positive change in our lives.
The neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin travel to the happy center of the brain much like the way an antidepressant works. A gratitude practice can, therefore, stabilize our mood, relax us and generally enhance our sense of well-being as a natural alternative to medication.

Health Improvement

A study shows that gratitude can improve health over a long period. The regions of the brain that light up when we express and feel gratitude are also linked to the brain’s “mu opioid” networks, activated during intimate touch and pain relief. In simple terms, these data suggest that gratitude is connected to circuits in the brain linked to social bonding that can lead to improvements in long-term health.

Help Depression

A researcher named Prathik Kini at Indiana University did a study investigating how practicing gratitude can change brain function in depressed individuals. Their examinations discovered that the feeling of gratitude can actually induce structural changes in the neural networks of the brain, suggesting that practicing gratitude regularly can really change the brain and rewire it. ‘ she blames it.

In conclusion, the practice of gratitude can also change our minds towards looking for the positive and what is going well, instead of finding problems and reasons to be negative.

What we put our attention on grows, so think about what you want to grow in your life, and channel your energy towards it.