Posted in Of Heart and Mind

Your Brain on Gratitude

‘Tis the season. Thanksgiving is here, and soon, Christmas will be, too. Today, in church service, we discovered how our body and mind respond to experiencing gratitude on a regular basis. This is what we will be discussing today.

An individual is positively affected neurologically, physically and emotionally when they experience gratitude regularly. The Huffington Post wrote an article called “The Neuroscience of Gratitude” which shares the following implications of gratitude:

  • production of dopamine and serotonin increases
  • it can be a natural antidepressant
  • the more these neural pathways are fired, the more automatic it becomes
  • encourages the search for constructive themes, rather than destructive ones

A study conducted in 2015 by four researchers created a four-condition experiment (stimulus, reflection, probe and rest) where participants read an excerpt telling of one of four phases of the Holocaust: 1. The rise of Nazism and Persecution, 2. Internment, 3. The Final Solution, 4. Final Months and Liberation. After reading the excerpt, they were instructed to reflect and feel, as much as possible, how it would feel to experience what they had just read, and create a deep, personal, realistic reaction. Then, they had to rate how much gratitude they felt on a scale from 1 to 4. A black screen would then be presented, as they were instructed to rest and release their mind of all thoughts for a 12-16 second period, acting as a baseline prior to the next phase. The four conditions of the experiment are shown in the figure below. The hypothesis? “That gratitude ratings would correlate with activity in brain regions associated with moral cognition, value judgment and theory of mind.”

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Experiment Protocol

The results? “Ratings of gratitude correlated with brain activity in the anterior cingulate cortex and medial prefrontal cortex, in support of our hypotheses. The results provide a window into the brain circuitry for moral cognition and positive emotion that accompanies the experience of benefitting from the goodwill of others.”

How awesome! When we feel grateful, we begin to elicit the positive emotion that comes from experiencing the benefit of a gift from someone. Even amidst tragedy and shortfall, simply “thinking” gratitude into existence will rewire the neural pathways to make it a habit for emotional well-being.

Here are four ways that you can practice gratitude:

  1. Write it down. On a daily basis, write down at least 5 things you are grateful for.
  2. Get into a routine of gratitude. You can have an accountability partner; you can write it every morning before you start your day; you can keep a list posted to be reminded daily. Whatever works for you.
  3. Meditate. You can do so sitting quietly or during your favorite exercise activity, such as yoga, pilates or even running.
  4. Surround yourself with people who share gratitude, too. These people might be family, co-workers or your church friends. Make sure you are not exposed to complaints every day. Be grateful and help others do the same.

Best Wishes,

Coral A.J. Gibson

Posted in Of Heart and Mind

Become Hungry For Life Again

One week ago today, April 20, I had 69 visitors and over 90 page visits. Let’s try and make that a daily occurrence! Share with your friends and family to make sure they get their daily dose, too.

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Today’s a day of action-planning, of introversion. What the heck do I want from my life?

Here’s a few things I’ve come up with for the remainder of 2016:

  • have open dialogue and a deeper relationship with God
  • create change in people’s lives (both physically and mentally)
    • help clients reach a new personal best every time I meet with them
    • educate clients on the importance of nutrition for mind and body
    • influence non-clients to want to learn more about exercise and nutrition
  • attend at least 4 seminars/conferences to gain knowledge in my field(s) of work
  • compete in a figure contest and place 1st
  • observe/intern at a prosthetics lab to work my way to grad school
  • upgrade my 2007 Kawasaki 650R for another sportsbike (make/model to be decided)
  • drive my 1969 Jeepster Commando through all kinds of scenery
  • become more financially stable with income and expenses
  • make a social life for myself (interactions outside of those with my pups)
  • record at least one song of voice and guitar as a Christmas gift
  • have more contact with family and friends outside of Austin

Take an hour one day to sit down and write down some short-term (6-12 month) goals. Every week, take 30 minutes to go over your list, see where you’re putting the effort and make sure you’re doing something weekly to work towards all of those goals. Some goals might take more persistence than others… Budget your time. Make sure you have your priorities in line. Yes, this is the only life you’ve got.

Don’t find yourself looking back every December asking yourself “What did I do this year?” and having your response be a blank stare on your face with bags under your eyes because all you’ve done is work, work, work and not pursue YOU!

Here are a few great links to help you work on those characteristics that are essential to deciding, working towards, and obtaining your life goals:

  1. Fear: https://www.tonyrobbins.com/mind-meaning/how-to-use-fear/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_content=How%2520to%2520Use%2520Fear&utm_campaign=Editorial
  2. Mastery: http://www.businessinsider.com/tony-robbins-what-to-do-in-20s-be-successful-in-30s-2016-4
  3. Audacity: https://definingaudacity.com/2013/08/22/leverage2/
  4. Hungry for Life: http://www.hungryforlife.org/blog/why-again-did-we-start

Instead of dragging your feet, make every step purposefully. Instead of waiting, go out and put your dreams in the palm of your hand. Instead of falling victim to setbacks, use them as a diving board to jump deeper into what you want in your life.

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Warmly,

Coral Jinright