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The Neuroscience of Gratitude + A Gratitude Guide

“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.” 
― Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose
The Brain on Gratitude
Nurturing a gratitude practice empowers health and happiness. The neuroscience of gratitude shows that the blessing of a gratitude practice begins in the brain by altering the brain’s molecular structure. Gratitude affects us on a psychological and neurobiological level. The neuroscience of gratitude shows that it is a practice of peace, soothing the central nervous system and stimulating happiness. The boon of gratitude can be felt in all areas of life and is especially powerful for inciting an inspired family.

This journey can begin as a way to effectively address challenging behavior or as a way to simply skyrocket your child and family’s ability to thrive. Gratitude is the perfect opportunity for caregivers to work as partners in learning with a child. Developing a gratitude practice can begin as a family and will reward everyone. Once you begin your practice your heart will feel more open and attuned to the possibility of gratitude. You will create a free flow of happiness rooted in gratitude.

These benefits have been studied by various scientists who have formed a picture of the neuroscience of gratitude.
Gratitude boosts dopamine and serotonin in the brain.  
Gratitude is associated with:

Cardiovascular health
Immune health
Resiliency to trauma
Enhancement to social relationships and social bonding
Motivation for prosocial behavior
General affective processing/ social processing

In a study published in NeuroImage, Kini Prathik, the leading scientist, found that subjects who practiced a simple writing task centered on gratitude showed an increase in behavioral expressions of gratitude three months after the task. In addition, these individuals displayed more gratitude-minded neural activity on brain scanners three months later. In alignment with this idea, the researchers noted that the anterior cingulate cortex and the medial prefrontal cortex in the brain, centers designed to predict how your actions will affect others, became more sensitive after the gratitude task. The researchers of this study imply that cultivating an awareness of gratitude becomes a perpetual practice.

You and your child have a gratitude muscle in the brain that will become increasingly stronger with use. As you cultivate your gratitude muscle, the more those feelings will come naturally to you in the future.

Strengthening your gratitude muscle will also help to fortify gratitude-based neural connections in the brain, sparking an even more spontaneous and automatic attitude of gratitude.
A Gratitude Mind-Set and Behavior
Prathik asserts that as you strengthen your gratitude muscle and your brain adapts to a gratitude-based mind-set these feelings will blossom into your actions. This can be very helpful for children who are still learning how to identify and express emotions. Many negative emotions such as ...

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