We know that gratitude is good for us. But, how does gratitude affect our physiology? Our nervous system? Is there a neurology of gratitude?
Your Brain’s Filter – The Reticular Activating System
Yes! The reticular activating system (RAS) is a part of the brain stem (the transitional area between the brain and spinal cord) that controls wakefulness, arousal, motivation, sexual activity, circadian rhythm (melatonin regulates the activity of the RAS), respiration, cardiac rhythm, and other essential body functions.
Dysfunction of the RAS can cause hypervigilance, an over-amplified response to stressors in the environment, anxiety, and panic disorder and may play a role in autism.
Now, here is the most important part of this little neurology lecture! The RAS doesn’t generate conscious awareness but rather acts as a gatekeeper for what sensory information reaches the frontal cortex where consciousness (self and general awareness) originates.
How we feel and think about our experiences will train our RAS what to let into our consciousness and what to filter out. In this way, you control your experience of reality!
Filtering for Gratitude
Strong feelings condition the RAS. Strong negative feelings will train your RAS to filter the world around you for those things that relate to your negative emotions. And, in the same way, strong positive emotions train your RAS to collect from the world around you all the pleasing things that cause you to feel grateful.
You have trained your reticular activating system to filter for every possible advantageous connection in the world around you that triggers feelings connected to your vision! You didn’t spontaneously alter reality to meet your needs – you trained your mind to connect with all the aspects of reality around you that can meet your needs.
The key to all this is gratitude – consciously and consistently practicing being fully grateful for anything you experience or envision that want in your life.
Training You Brain for Making Magic
Conscientiously and consistently practicing this process over time results in you experiencing connections, becoming aware of fortuitous circumstances, meeting people with whom they can form mutually beneficial alliances, and finding your environment seems to support the materialization of your vision.
And, if your vision is big enough, inspiring enough, and benefits enough people, you will probably experience others resonating with your vision and supporting you to make it manifest!
Your mind has awe-inspiring capacities to filter the world around you for the very things you condition/program it to “look” for. Practicing gratitude consciously, passionately, and regularly promotes you to experience more of everything in your life for which you feel grateful.
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