Your Brain on Gratitude

June 5, 2015


photo credit – Pat Mann

Gratitude changes your brain

feeds your spirit

uplifts your mood.

Studies show that cultivating gratitude has important and lasting benefits.

It increases satisfaction with life, builds resilience, helps you cope and can even improve your sleep




Dr. Rick Hanson suggests the following practices for rewiring your brain toward gratitude:
  1. Notice feelings of gratitude that are already present in your brain.
  2. Find things to be grateful or in your life and in the lives of others.
  3. Really enjoy the experience of gratitude. Savor it for at least 10 sec.
  4. Let the feeling of gratitude sink into your body. Smile as you feel it.
  5. “Imagine that some of the many things you feel grateful for or about are showering down into and gradually filling any emptiness inside”.*
  6. Say “thank you”.


I am grateful for Dr Hanson’s neuropsychological research and his ability to teach about our brains in easy to understand words.

I weave together his brain research with the simple suggestion to find 5 things to be grateful for every day. Just 5 things. Start small.


One day my list included; sunshine, a friend’s call, belly rubs for my dog, not spilling food on my shirt. It doesn’t have to be fancy. I took 10 seconds to savor each grateful thing. I smiled. And, my gratitude list grew longer.

You, too, will find that a funny thing will start to happen. You will begin to notice more and more good things in your life as you develop your own gratitude practices.


*Hanson PhD, Rick. Hardwiring Happiness, p.193-4.


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