Feeling grateful has many physical and mental benefits for our health.
Regular gratitude gives us more flexibility in painful situations and allows us to reframe our view of events. It improves our relationships, not only with those who express or express gratitude, but in our relationships in general. Huberman Lab is a podcast by Stanford University neuroscientist and ophthalmologist Andrew Huberman, which in one of its recent episodes explores our mental mechanisms when it comes to experiencing gratitude and It challenges the effectiveness of some of the ideas and practices that many of us have on the subject, at least from a neuroscience perspective.
When we feel grateful, the brain’s pro-social neural circuits that bring us closer to having sensory experiences in which we feel closer with others (or with ourselves) are triggered, and there are defensive defences associated with fear, alienation or paralysis. , which decreases when social advocates are “on” or more active. This is something that can be managed, but perhaps not in the most intuitive way. Many of us have heard (or practiced) some ways to thank: Write down three things we are grateful for or think of three people we want to thank for something. Huberman explains that they are not effective practices to experience the benefits of gratitude.
What we know now is that we can change our pro-social feelings so that they dominate our physiology and mental models. Huberman explains that neuromodulators are chemicals that are released in the brain and body and alter the activity of other neural circuits, making some areas of the brain more active than others. Serotonin is the chemical most closely associated with gratitude, which when released encourages us to be in deep interaction and connection with something or someone. Brain activity increases the experience of gratitude more intensely and occurs in the medial prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain involved in deep thinking, and automatic evaluation of past, present, and future events. This area of the brain gives us context and determines the meaning of our experience. It is an effective irrational practice to receive thanks for something we have done, and not so much when we express our gratitude. Exposing ourselves to stories where others are being helped causes us to experience this deep feeling. Our brain connections are largely geared to connecting with other people’s stories and influencing, for good, our physical and mental health.