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Gratitude wasn’t always my thing. In fact, I used to roll my eyes when yoga teachers talked about gratitude. But life’s twists and turns led me through some of my darkest moments, including divorce, a battle with breast cancer, and my father’s terminal illness. It was during these tough times that I discovered the power of gratitude. When life takes a difficult turn, it’s easy to dwell on the negatives, which only amplifies our stress and anxiety. But by finding even one small thing to be grateful for, we can shift our mood and perspective.

Gratitude isn’t about ignoring life’s hardships; it’s a tool for resilience and positivity in the face of adversity. In this episode, I’m diving into the science of gratitude to explain exactly what happens in our brains when we intentionally shift our focus off negative thoughts toward more positive ones, even if you have to fake it until you make it.

Research reveals that when we express and genuinely feel gratitude, our brains respond by releasing feel-good chemicals, including serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin. This chemical cocktail enhances our mood, nurtures optimism, and elevates our overall well-being.

I talk about neuroplasticity, where our brains form new neural connections through repetition and positive emotions. Through regular gratitude practice, we can train our brains to embrace positive emotions and thoughts, gradually shifting away from negativity, fear, and anxiety. You really can change yourself from the inside, helping you to better manage stress and cultivate a brighter outlook on life. Remember, gratitude isn’t just a mental exercise—it’s a potent tool for rewiring our brains towards positivity.

Toward the end of the episode, I invite you to join me for a guided meditation to help you cultivate thoughts and feelings of gratitude in your own life. I encourage you that with regular practice, gratitude has the power to completely transform your way of being. 
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References:

  1. Emmons, R. A., & McCullough, M. E. (2003). Counting blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84(2), 377.
  2. Emmons, R. A., & Shelton, C. M. (2002). Gratitude and the science of positive psychology. Handbook of positive psychology, 18, 459–471.
  3. Fox, G. R., Kaplan, J., Damasio, H., & Damasio, A. (2015). Neural correlates of gratitude. Frontiers in Psychology, 6, 1491. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01491
  4. Kyeong S, Kim J, Kim DJ, Kim HE, Kim JJ. (2017) Effects of gratitude meditation on neural network functional connectivity and brain-heart coupling. Sci Rep. 2017 Jul 11;7(1):5058. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-05520-9. PMID: 28698643; PMCID: PMC5506019.