We are neurologically bent toward negativity. Some scientists theorize that it’s an adaptive strategy from the days when we were preyed upon by toothy things in the wild. Attend to danger and you’re more likely to survive. One researcher put it this way, “Your brain is Velcro for negativity and Teflon for positivity.”
And we all know this to be true. Get a performance review that says you do 99 things really well but have one “area for improvement” and what will you think about that night? See what I mean.
But neuroscience also says that our neural pathways are quite changeable. It’s called neuroplasticity. We are not hard-wired; we can literally re-wire our brains. Repetition creates new neural pathways that change the way we perceive and think about daily life.
What does that mean? Simply put, practicing gratitude makes us more positive. Focusing daily on what we’re grateful for literally re-wires our brain, causing us to perceive and experience all of life more positively. Here’ an awesome video that demonstrates how expressing gratitude radically increases happiness.
Maybe that’s why the bible constantly encourages us to “give thanks.” Maybe the issue isn’t that God is like that relative who’ll be cranky if they don’t get a thank you note for the birthday gift they sent. Maybe we’re encouraged to give thanks because God longs for us to experience life as pure joy and knows that gratitude is the pathway that takes us there.
Who are you thankful for? Why not tell them today.