Rewiring Your Brain for Positivity with ‘Mature Gratitude’

Rewiring Your Brain for Positivity with ‘Mature Gratitude’

Much has been written about gratitude.

And there’s no doubt that … it’s good! Gratitude, appreciation, thankfulness; whatever you call it it’s undoubtedly associated with more positive emotions, like happiness, and even greater health and wellbeing.

But at the same time, however, as with many aspects of psychology, it’s often oversimplified. And even at times misunderstood.

Which is why this article, by Andrea Rice on the Psychology Today website is interesting because it goes into more depth and explores the notion of “mature gratitude” …

There are many things to be thankful for — despite our unique circumstances and the chaos of the world around us.

But it’s so easy to get caught up in negative thinking and focus on what we don’t have versus what we do.

Robert A. Emmons, PhD, professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis, and renowned expert in gratitude research, describes gratitude as a practice of recognizing the good in our lives or that which we might take for granted.

You can learn how to rewire your brain for positive thinking with “mature gratitude” and reap the benefits of developing your own practice.

Neuroplasticity: Rewiring the brain

As the saying goes, “Neurons that fire together, wire together.”

Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to form new neural connections. This “rewiring” effect can lead to positive growth and change.

When the brain’s circuits get caught up in negative narratives, your thoughts might skew toward the negative. There may be some reasons for this.

Negativity bias

The negativity bias is our tendency to be more attracted to negative stimuli than positive — which is evident in the way we’re drawn more to negative headlines than positive ones.

Mark Hoelterhoff, PhD, a positive psychology expert at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, explains that from an evolutionary perspective, the brain developed a heightened sense of awareness to potential threats or risks in order to stay safe.

“But we can move beyond that negativity bias and begin to pay more attention to the positive aspects in our life,” Hoelterhoff says.

According to Martin Seligman, renowned positive psychology theorist and director of the Penn Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania, one way to change your mindset is by savoring.

When we hear a positive news story, have a positive thought, or receive positive feedback, Seligman recommends taking time to reflect on it.

“It’s that savoring approach that begins to create a new brain circuitry — a new neural network that’s geared toward looking for the positive,” says Hoelterhoff.

Positivity offset

By contrast, the positivity offset occurs when we interpret neutral situations as mildly positive.

If most people feel mildly positive in response to neutral situations, we can draw from that in the face of negative situations and try to shift our focus toward something positive.

“In reality, the simplest and most practical way to rewire your brain for positive thinking is to take the time to reflect, be grateful, and be aware of the positive things in your life,” Hoelterhoff says…

… keep reading the full & original article HERE