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Your brain on gratitude: the perks of brazen thankfulness

“Gratitude is some seriously powerful stuff.”
–Emily Wenstrom

I just returned from the Cook Islands, a tiny nation of 15 spits of land, surrounded by millions of miles of ocean.

The 15,000 or so people who live in the Cooks rightfully believe they are blessed, that God has given them everything they could possibly need.

It’s an attitude that can’t help but provide. When someone shows up on this planet with a grateful heart and eyes seeking only things for which to be thankful, that’s exactly what they’ll find. Abundance aplenty.

Cook Islanders don’t need researchers to tell them that their feelings of thankfulness have a direct and beneficial effect on their brains, a finding scientists are reporting from labs all over Western universities.

By naturally focusing on positives, on how lucky and blessed they are living in these beautiful South Pacific islands, they’re rewarded with neurotransmitters like dopamine and other feel-good chemicals that form neural patterns of happiness. Their unending gratitude literally sculpts their brains which in turn increases their enthusiasm and energy and lowers their stress.

Consequently, their neural pathways are markedly different than those of us in the West that are conditioned to shine our spotlights on what we resent or regret or what we think is “wrong with the world.”

Renee Jain, a coach of positive psychology, says most Westerners have a negativity bias where “bad stuff” outweighs the good 3:1. Think of all the good drugs (dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin) we’re missing out on by our bitching.

That’s why my mission in life is to be like the Cook Islanders, to focus only on the supreme beneficence of the universe.

I consciously choose to believe such thoughts as:

Life is freaking awesome.
The universe is bounteous and forever generous.
Something amazing is bound to happen to me today.

Today, I say thank you for all the blessings that are barreling my way, all the abundance, the joy, the peace of mind that I count on day after day. To my way of thinking, responding to any other reality is simply irresponsible.

So tell me … what are you grateful for?

11 Responses

  1. I’m grateful for the abundance of blue sky with white fluffy clouds on a sunny day. The contrast of cool air to warm rays. The smell of spring in the ground. The new shoots from the bulbs I planted last fall. And the birds flitting around the feeder. It is an absolutely sublime day!

  2. 1.Hot water, central heat, husbands that know how to fix central heat and that mine will be working again very shortly
    2. My family and how they make me laugh and smile daily.
    3. The abundance of information on the Internet and out there in the world.
    4. The huge variety of foods always available at my supermarket.
    5. Fun blogs to read 🙂

  3. Slowly but surely I am learning to practice this! Thanks for all the encouragement you send my way!

  4. I am grateful for joining Hay House Radio and having the opportunity to podcast archived shows to listen to at my leisure. I am grateful for chosing a show in which you, Pam Grout, were being interviewed for your new book E-Squared. I am grateful to now own your book and witnessing first hand the power of the Universe. (I’m on experiment #2)

    I want to share a little something with you and whomever may read these comments. My girlfriend and I have started texting each other every morning, three things we are grateful for. We’ve been doing it for about a week now, it’s been a lot of fun!

      1. Hi Shauna.

        I don’t have Pam’s book (yet). It sounds intriguing – and I’ve had some remarkable personal demonstrations, myself – but I’ve got a couple of others to get to that I’ve already bought: Marianne Williamson’s latest, and Anita Moorjani’s.

        Right now I am in the middle of Glenda Green’s expanded edition of “Love Without End” – having read the earlier version.

        I’ve studied many things over the years, including “A Course In Miracles,” but I must say, Green’s book is one of the most inspiring and informative I’ve ever read – also claiming direct input from Jesus – but delivered to an artist instead of a psychologist. So the terminology is a little different to accommodate that.

        Well, I guess you got my long-winded answer. LOL!

  5. Hi Dennis,
    Thank you for your long winded answer and for mentioning the book you are currently reading. It’s interesting when I think back to my childhood and how much I hated reading. Now, I can’t get enough books. lol I recently heard about Anita Moorjani through Wayne Dyer … found her on FB and Liked her page. I haven’t read anything of hers yet, but I’m sure to. Same goes for Marianne Williamson.

    I have “A Course In Miracles” sitting at home on my desk. I haven’t started reading it yet because I’m working on Pam’s book and I’m about to start Eckart Tolle’s “A New Earth”. And then there’s Neale Donald Walsh and so many others! I’m like a sponge these days … just wanting to soak it all in and learn and apply as much as I possibly can.

    Life is good. Life is very good.

    Hey … not sure if you use apps on your cell phone or any other electronic device, but I recently downloaded two that I’m finding useful and fun.


    1. Hi Shauna.

      I haven’t been active posting responses for a few days, but wanted to thank you for your App suggestions.

      I don’t have a smart-phone yet, though, as I don’t have very good cell reception at my house.

      So I just carry an old pay-by-the-minute phone when I’m out and about.

      I’m still a little smarter than it is – I hope.

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