Developing a “Buddha Brain” Through Gratitude
What role does gratitude play in developing a “buddha brain” and why?
A ”buddha brain” is one that knows how to be deeply happy, loving, and wise. We develop ourselves in this way by cultivating wholesome qualities and uprooting unwholesome ones. In a sense, we plant flowers and pull weeds in the garden of the mind – which means that we are gradually changing the brain for the better.
Gratitude is a powerful tool in this “garden” since what you rest your attention upon is what will shape your brain the most. That’s because “neurons that fire together, wire together.” Gratitude shifts your attention away from resentment, regret, and guilt – and therefore stops you from building up the neural substrates of these known factors of mental and physical health problems. Gratitude also focuses your awareness on positive things, simple good facts such as having enough water to drink, the laughter of children, the kindness of others, or the smell of an orange.
To reap the rewards of gratitude, rest your attention on a good fact, noticing details about it, staying with it for at least a few seconds in a row. Then allow a natural emotional response of gratitude to arise. Continue to pay attention to this feeling of gratitude for another few seconds – or even longer: it’s delicious! Taking these few extra seconds will help you weave gratitude into the fabric of your brain and your Self. And you can practice gratitude both on the fly, as you move through your day, and at specific occasions, such as at meals or just before bed.
How do you practice gratitude in your daily life? Let me know in the comments!
An Attitude of Gratitude - Darlene Lancer, LMFT (MHN Blogger) - Apr 15th 2014
Having gratitude is highly recommended in 12-Step programs as a way to reverse negative feelings - but it's known that it must be authentic and also meaningful. If it's hard to really feel grateful about anything, making a list each day of things we're grateful for, and particularly if we share that list with another person, helps develop actual feeling of gratitude. Pretty soon, gratitude starts sprouting up all over in unexpected places as we build more neural connections and get in the habit of looking for things to add to our list. Our brain likes challenges!
Darlene Lancer, LMFT