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The grateful mind set

Posted by Simon Parke, 11 July 2017, 7.18am

Just as certain foods do us good, so do some emotions.

Take gratitude, for instance: your brain and your body, they love it apparently.

Why?

Because of the science of what it does.

You may know that the antidepressant Wellbutrin boosts the neurotransmitter dopamine.

I’m aware dopamine is sometimes called the Kim Kardashian of neurotransmitters, sexy for being associated with pleasure.

Which is all to be encouraged.

But it has other functions in the brain; and beyond the pleasure sea it’s also involved in regulating movement, (and so used at the onset of Parkinson’s disease) and the control of attention.

But do you know what studies show also boosts dopamine in your body? Yes, gratitude.

It’s emotional self-medication, requiring no visit to the doctor’s surgery.

And then there’s serotonin.

Among other things, this neurotransmitter is important for mood balance, protecting us from depression.

Prozac, of course, is famous for boosting serotonin.

But studies reveal that - yes, gratitude also boosts it.

The simple act of focusing on good things in your life apparently increases serotonin production in the anterior cingulate cortex. (Not a phrase I use often.)

So as we all rush for the medicine cupboard, there’s definite cause for thought here, as our being - our psychological and spiritual state - is brought into our healing
equation.

Gratitude may not come easily to us.

When life isn’t going well, (and it doesn’t always) we may feel there’s nothing to be grateful for.

But this doesn’t actually matter; it’s the searching for the positives that counts… the grateful mind set.

The grateful mind set is a form of emotional intelligence and a tip-top habit.

Another study found that it affects neuron density in both the ventromedial and lateral prefrontal cortex.

These density changes suggest that as emotional intelligence increases, the neurons in these areas become more efficient. With higher emotional intelligence, it simply takes less effort to be grateful.

We can change.

And obviously gratitude doesn’t just release good things into your body. It makes people around you happy because it’s an attractive emotion to be close to.

So a positive feedback loop is created, a beautiful circle.

Some make a religion out of being grumpy, and it has its occasional comedy and charm.

But there are better religions, and one of them is gratitude.

The grateful mind set: it’s like one of those miracle cures.

 
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