Nov

27

You cannot be grateful and feel like anything is wrong or missing at the same moment in time.

Before the Thanksgiving spirit wanes, I for one, am going to try to hold onto gratitude, because in the Jack Nicholson line from the movie, As Good As It Gets, “It makes me want to be a better man.”

Try it. Think of three people that you are grateful to. Who were those people? What did they specifically do that you feel grateful for? Remember those people and what they did in detail and then try to feel angry, embittered and/or cynical. You will find it difficult to do so (unless by nature you take more pleasure out of being unforgiving).

There are a number of explanations for this, but my favorite involves neuroscience. When you feel angry, embittered and/or cynical, deprived, that something is missing or that something has been taken away from you, you react to that hole in your happiness — and neurophysiology — with resentment and may even feel the impulse to seek revenge.

When however you imagine in your minds eye the people you feel grateful to and envision clearly what they did to cause you to feel that way, the hole in your happiness–and in your brain and mind–spontaneously goes away, and is replaced by satisfaction and gratitude. In most people it even leads to the impulse to express that gratitude or even give back to the world.

If you want even more of an explanation for this, the entire process of remembering these wonderful people and feeling grateful to them is mediated by mirror neurons. These are cells that read minds and enable us to understand and empathize with others. And when in reverse we feel understood and empathized with by others, these are the cells that cause us to feel grateful and to borrow and recast a line from a famous old Beatles song, that is “what fixes a hole where the pain gets in.”


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