What if I told you the way you talk could physically change your brain chemistry? You would probably think I was lying. We are who we are right? Well, that’s not exactly true.
Yes, there are dispositions that different personalities lean toward but your attitude, and dare I say personality, is more pliable than you think. We already know that our memories are greatly influenced by our emotions (click here for more) and now there is strong emerging evidence that the mind can be shaped through a thinking exercise.
Here is where it starts to sound too good to be true. The research states that a specific type of thinking (and talking) can reduce physical aches and pains, depression, anxiety, improve sleep, and can even improve your workout!
So, what is it? Gratitude. Yep, being grateful. Here is the cool thing. Gratitude isn’t just an emotional response to situations you like.
Don’t think of gratitude as a feeling, but a way of choosing to view the world.
Gratitude can precede an emotional response. You can choose to think gratefully and the body, over time, will begin to FEEL grateful.
There are many resources showing this thinking exercise to be incredibly powerful but Dr. Korb, a research neuroscientist at UCLA, says it clearest:
“The wide variety of effects that gratitude can have may seem surprising, but a direct look at the brain activity during gratitude yields some insight. NIH researchers examined blood flow in various brain regions while subjects summoned up feelings of gratitude. They found that subjects who showed more gratitude overall had higher levels of activity in the hypothalamus. This is important because the hypothalamus controls a huge array of essential bodily functions, including eating, drinking and sleeping. It also has a huge influence on your metabolism and stress levels. From this evidence on brain activity it starts to become clear how improvements in gratitude could have such wide-ranging effects from increased exercise, and improved sleep to decreased depression and fewer aches and pains.”
What’s even more amazing is when modern science supports something a two-thousand-year-old text has been saying. Paul in the book of Romans chapter 12 teaches that thinking in the way of Jesus Christ, the way of hope and love, can “renew” your mind. Now we know objectively and scientifically that this is true!
So, this Holiday season when you are sitting around the table with friends and family take a moment to think and talk with gratitude. Try this question, “What are you most grateful for and why are you grateful for it?” The greatest gift you give your family may end up being a way of thinking.
To take this even further let this be your New Year’s resolution. Every morning take about one minute and write out two or three things you are grateful for in a notebook. I encourage you to start the journey and see what happens to you as the months go by. Just maybe, under all that fear, anxiety, and negativity that’s literally killing you is a new person.
Want more? Check out Dr. Korbs article.