Revelation Within On the Go!

Encore Presentation of: The "Neuro-Scienterrific" Benefits of Gratitude!

May 01, 2024 Heidi Bylsma-Epperson and Christina Motley Season 1 Episode 92
Encore Presentation of: The "Neuro-Scienterrific" Benefits of Gratitude!
Revelation Within On the Go!
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Revelation Within On the Go!
Encore Presentation of: The "Neuro-Scienterrific" Benefits of Gratitude!
May 01, 2024 Season 1 Episode 92
Heidi Bylsma-Epperson and Christina Motley

Tune in to this special encore presentation of our podcast that was first aired September 13, 2023, for a deep dive into gratitude and its incredible effects on the brain. Learn how this simple practice can unleash dopamine without the sugar crash, improve sleep, boost empathy, and enhance social connections. This information is so important, it is worth a rerun! Don't miss out on the transformative power of gratitude! 

 Visit us at https://www.revelationwithin.org to learn more about our online community! 

Included in the $9.99 membership is our exclusive Overcome Cravings course! Get a 49-page PDF workbook, 4 recorded class sessions with 2 coaches, a dynamic community. 

Support the Show.

Learn more about our Revelation Within Community: https://www.revelationwithin.org


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Tune in to this special encore presentation of our podcast that was first aired September 13, 2023, for a deep dive into gratitude and its incredible effects on the brain. Learn how this simple practice can unleash dopamine without the sugar crash, improve sleep, boost empathy, and enhance social connections. This information is so important, it is worth a rerun! Don't miss out on the transformative power of gratitude! 

 Visit us at https://www.revelationwithin.org to learn more about our online community! 

Included in the $9.99 membership is our exclusive Overcome Cravings course! Get a 49-page PDF workbook, 4 recorded class sessions with 2 coaches, a dynamic community. 

Support the Show.

Learn more about our Revelation Within Community: https://www.revelationwithin.org


Speaker 1:

Hi and welcome to Revelation Within On the Go. I'm Heidi Wiles-Mapperson, one of your hosts and the owner and lead coach of the Revelation Within ministry, and I'm Christina Motley, your other host, also a Revelation Within coach, and Heidi's partner in all things Revelation Within, and we are just absolutely thrilled that you're here with us for this episode of Revelation Within On the Go, absolutely thrilled that you're here with us for this episode of Revelation Within On Data. Thank you for joining us.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, we're so glad you're here, for sure.

Speaker 1:

This week we are sharing with you some stuff on gratitude. In fact, we call this rewiring your mind, the neuroscientific marvel of gratitude.

Speaker 2:

Whoa.

Speaker 1:

Will you say that again, heidi? Yes, the neuroscientific marvel of gratitude. I love it Fantastic. Yeah, we've been. As you may know from other podcasts we've shared this. We've been in the midst of a gratitude month, really in our community. It's been so much fun. And let's talk about gratitude. Well, heidi, what in the world does gratitude have to do with neuroscientific plasticity? What does it have to do with all this science? Talk, heidi.

Speaker 1:

As it turns out, gratitude changes a whole lot about our neuroscience and it does some really cool things. So we're going to talk about 10 of those today. I'm excited about it. So if you listen or don't have yet a practice of gratitude, you will be glad. You heard about the neuroscience horrific ways that gratitude rewires your mind, but your whole entire life. It's just so cool. Science is catching up with what God said. We were wired for gratitude, wired for worship, wired to thank God for life, for the things that he blesses us with. So shall we dive in? Let's dive in. I'm so excited. Let's go All right. So the first one is we know that practicing gratitude improves our mood and happiness. Certainly, I know that when I practice gratitude, it boosts my mood, it makes me a happier person. That's all there is to it, but there is neuroscience behind that, so that's kind of cool. Gratitude actually stimulates your brain's reward pathways, it releases dopamine, it promotes those feelings of pleasure and happiness and encourages you in having a more optimistic outlook on life, which is really cool.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, that is cool.

Speaker 1:

If you think about it, many of us gravitate towards certain foods, for instance, and it's often sugary foods, and that's what we go to for our dopamine hit. And it's true, sugar is known to release a really big hit of dopamine. And you know, people say that sugar is more addicting than cocaine. But in the research that I've done anyway on this topic and you can do it too it seems that what is really addicting is the dopamine because it feels so good. It's our, it's the way we feel pleasure. It makes us feel like we've been rewarded. It's one of our bodies feel good chemicals.

Speaker 1:

But what is so cool is I can either reach for sugar and get the instant gratification of that dopamine hit, but regret it later for a million reasons that sugar crash later. Or I can grab for gratitude and get that very same dopamine hit without the negative consequences. That has wired me to be at my best. When I practice gratitude, I get a dopamine rush. I don't need sugar, believe it or not. So what if I delay just a bit in grabbing for sugar and practice gratitude for, you know, a couple minutes? Is it possible that that dopamine hit will give me what I was going to look to sugar for Maybe. I think it's a kind of cool experiment to give a try to yes. Well, I've given it a try.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I love what you said, heidi, when you said grab for gratitude, because that is that's what I find myself doing. When a big emotion comes up or things feel like they're going sideways or I'm unsettled in some way, or maybe I'm just really tired or stressed, I'm grabbing. I'm grabbing for something else. Maybe it's scrolling on my phone, or maybe it's food, or maybe it's something to drink, you know, a fancy coffee. You know, I used to grab for those all the time. I am grabbing. Maybe it's a show on TV that I'm going to numb out with, I'm grabbing, but I love this idea to grab for gratitude. So here's an example, a real life right now example so my daughter, a few minutes ago, just left for college, and she's left many times for college.

Speaker 1:

It's not her first time, and she's left many times for college.

Speaker 1:

It's not her first time, but every time I find myself filled with large, big, huge emotions, bigger than I expect. I'm always surprised by it and the tears come and it's like and so what do I do? So this week, throughout the week, I've been preparing Good job, I've already been feeling some of that sadness and getting ready, and you know we've taken some pictures and I'm just like preparing. And so what have I done to prepare? I have done our wonderful mind renewal tool Lord, I love yeah, which is a gratitude.

Speaker 1:

It's a tool of gratitude, yeah, so when I'm feeling downhearted, when I think, oh, I'm going to miss her so much. We've had an amazing summer together Then all I have to do is jump right in Lord. I love that Kat was so generous with her time this summer. I love that we had special moments where we could have a coffee together and talk about things. I love that she was so kind with her sister and really supported her this summer. I mean, I could go on and on. I love, I love.

Speaker 1:

And what does that do? It helps me so much. It feels good, I feel better. My whole body calms down. Yeah, you get that dopamine rush calms down. Yeah, you get that dopamine rush. I will be doing that today and tomorrow.

Speaker 1:

I'm practicing gratitude and grabbing for gratitude. One of the things I love about what you said, christina, is because now that a cat has driven off, you could revert to old coping mechanisms of the past. You know, grab for you know something in the cupboard, but your awareness and your preparation by practicing gratitude with Lord I love in other ways has set you up to be able to continue that, and there's dopamine that's going to be rushing through your body. That won't have any negative consequence to it. Isn't that a beautiful trade? I love it. It's natural, it's beautiful, it's God's design. Oh, I love that. I want so much to be walking in that. Yes, yes. So we know number one, that practicing gratitude improves mood and happiness. Number two we also know neuroscientific information tells us that practicing gratitude reduces stress and anxiety. Yeah, awesome. Wait a minute. Do you know anybody who's having stress and anxiety?

Speaker 1:

Nobody never, oh my gosh, I feel like everybody I know is so stressed right now.

Speaker 2:

Right. Tell us about that, Heidi.

Speaker 1:

We have been given an amazing body by God. That's all there is to it, and this is one of the reasons why we want to love the body we're in. God has done such an amazing job, but in our brains and we're going to geek out just for a minute.

Speaker 1:

In our brains. We have a prefrontal cortex and it's where we reason and process cortex and it's where we reason and process. It's that logic part of our brain that can see things the way they really are and analyze and all of that good stuff. But God, in his great wisdom, also gave us a survival brain, which is activated, of course, when we're in those highly stressful situations and no matter what comes, our survival brain will kick in with some input. That's where that fight or flight response might be determined. So typically, when your survival brain is online and in charge, the prefrontal cortex is probably offline and not in charge, and the same is true in reverse. So this is where it's really good.

Speaker 1:

By practicing gratitude, your prefrontal cortex, that reasoning logic part of your brain, comes online so that when things face you, you can see them as they are and sift through them, instead of letting your survival brain be in charge, because your survival brain usually looks for one of two options either fight or flee, and that's not always the best choice. Practicing gratitude, activating that prefrontal cortex, helps us to experience a regulation in our stress and anxiety levels and over time, of course, that can lead to a much more balanced and less reactive stress response. I love that because I'm somebody who left to my own devices. If you just say boo at me, I'm going to go. It's going to freak me out. I have been in hypervigilance mode since I was a child.

Speaker 1:

And many of us are predisposed to doing that because of our upbringings. But as we practice, gratitude that survival brain gets less online time and the logic brain part, that prefrontal cortex, gets more airtime. I love that I love that.

Speaker 1:

Can you give an example of that, heidi? I just it's amazing. It is amazing, sure, this especially for me. This is just me.

Speaker 1:

I find that I can be triggered to my past really easily and, and the more I practice gratitude in the present moment, the less likely I am to experience what we call a bungee way. You know, I'm being thrown back into a past moment. That's negative. So like, for instance, if somebody at church says some, or somebody I don't know really well says something using a phraseology that reminds me instantly of my childhood, of a negative experience I've had, my survival brain will fly into a reaction and it will either be to fight, you know, come back with a nasty response, or it'll be I'm leaving, I'm out of here. She's not somebody I want to hang out with, all because of something that's really not rational. Whereas if my prefrontal cortex is online, if my thinking, reasoning, logic brain is online, I can go. Huh, that's interesting. That reminds me. In my mind I'm thinking this that reminds me of something somebody said to me as a child, but I know this is not that moment.

Speaker 1:

I know that in this moment, I'm safe from criticism, I'm safe from being rejected, whatever it might be, and so I want my prefrontal cortex, my thinking logic brain, to be online a lot more often than it would be if it was not online. Well, and I think that we can all relate to that where you know something happens and we have a response that is so big emotionally it's like wait a minute, this isn't really proportionate to what just happened. I can relate to that as well. So I love, I love this. This is just amazing and I'm so thankful for it. Yay, okay.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

And let's, let's just say that really quick. I like to use these as things to be grateful for and I can say thank you, god, that you gave me a brain that can keep me safe and alive when I am in danger my survival brain. But I also am so grateful for my prefrontal cortex, my logic thinking, reasoning brain, and that that brain can be activated and more of my go-to through the practice of gratitude. It's just interesting that it strengthens that tendency in me that the more I practice gratitude when I get up in the morning, throughout the day, the more likely I am to be able to think logically and rationally instead of react. And that's amazing. And that's all. Just turning to the Lord and saying thank you, that's that's, that's amazing, I mean we were

Speaker 1:

wired for it. We were wired for it, okay. So I love this next one. Practicing gratitude enhances resilience, and when I think of resilience, I think of the ability to persevere, to keep going, to endure, to have pluck and moxie. Those are some good words, but I think you know so much of life requires a lot of endurance and requires us to be able to be strong, and of course, it's God strengthen us. But I just love this. Okay. So for decades, people thought that the addict was totally stuck. You know, once you're an addict, you're always an addict, that's just. It's who?

Speaker 2:

you are yeah.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, this is what people thought for a long, long time. But in the last 30 years or so, there's been a lot of research done and what has become clear is that we actually can change our patterns of thinking and many of you have heard this word before. It's kind of a fun word to say. This is called neuroplasticity. Yay, neuroplasticity it allows the brain to adapt to challenges more effectively. Oh, my goodness, I mean, this is so important. This can lead to increased emotional resilience and a greater ability to cope with failures and setbacks and problems and challenges and places where we feel stuck.

Speaker 1:

Who would not want that? Amazing? Amazing, I know I want it. So, practicing gratitude as we do so, we're constantly in a state of being sanctified, growing, changing. We're not stuck. We can be transformed by the renewing of our mind, and that's what it says in Romans 12 too. So I'm going to thank God right now. Lord Jesus, thank you so much that we are not stuck and that you created our brains to have what Neuroplasticity that sounds like Plato to me, lord and that we can bounce back from setbacks, that we can think more clearly, that we can have this, this whole change in our lives, all because of gratitude.

Speaker 1:

That's amazing, god. You thought of everything. You are the best. Yes, you know what? As you said that, the Play-Doh thing. It made me think of that plasticine clay that we use. You know, it's kind of oily feeling, mold it and shape it and it never dried out. I think of neuroplasticity as being that kind of substance, but it's in my brain and it's establishing neural pathways and ways. I'm thinking about this or that and how changeable it is, how malleable it is and how God calls himself the potter and we're the clay.

Speaker 1:

So, even that imagery kind of reflects this idea of neuroplasticity. We aren't stuck, no matter how many times we may do the same thing again and again. Yeah, we're not stuck. Praise God. I thought. For decades I thought that's it, I am a hopeless case. That's what my mom used to say, not about me, but she would say, oh, that that's a hopeless case. Oh, dear yeah, but it's not, it's no, no, ok. Here's another one that I think will be really important for a lot of you, and certainly for Heidi and I. What about sleep? Do you have trouble sleeping? Actually, studies show this is scientific practicing gratitude can enable us to enjoy better sleep. That's amazing. Practicing gratitude can actually activate the brain's hypothalamus, which is what regulates sleep patterns. This can lead to improved sleep quality and a more rested mind.

Speaker 2:

I love that man. That sounds good.

Speaker 1:

And you know what I love about this is that, no, it doesn't mean that you practice gratitude necessarily while you're trying to sleep, but that couldn't hurt, right, and you could use the alphabet idea what am I grateful for According to the letters of the alphabet, or praising God according to the letters of the alphabet? But even if you are practicing gratitude throughout your day, your hypothalamus is going to be activated so that it will help you have better sleep patterns. I think that's amazing, it's not?

Speaker 1:

just an immediate, it's over the course of time. Yeah, I mean, I will often practice gratitude or do like a praise fest where I'm praising God for who he is as I'm falling asleep, and it just clears all those thoughts and worries and other things that I'm thinking of. It just clears my mind and I enter into this wonderful, peaceful sleep and I've experienced it. It's wonderful. So, thank you God, thank you for that one too. That gratitude stimulates the hypothalamus that you created and causes us to enjoy better sleep. That's awesome. Thank you God. I mean we know he is the God of rest and sleep.

Speaker 2:

We look to him for that.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I love that.

Speaker 2:

But there's even more. Yeah, and this one really is one of my very favorites because I am all about relationships.

Speaker 1:

I am such a relationship girl. Okay, so science is showing us here studies and research that practicing gratitude actually increases empathy and social connection. I mean, it makes sense, right. Think about somebody that you know that's always grateful. They're always talking about what they love. They're always talking about being thankful, praising God oh God did that. This is wonderful. I'm so thankful.

Speaker 1:

And you know that person. You're probably thinking of them right now. It's the kind of person you want to be with. Other people want to be with that person. They're not only positive in their thoughts and in their outlook on life, but they really carry around a deep hope. You know, they know it's going to be okay because and they're grateful, know it's going to be okay and they're grateful, and it's amazing and so that makes total sense to me that relationships would be enhanced with a person who practices gratitude, and empathy would be enhanced. So gratitude practices enhance activity in the brain, social bonding and empathy centers, and this leads to stronger connections with others and more greater pro-social behavior. I love that. I love that so much, and I think that that is something that we just don't talk about enough.

Speaker 1:

No relationships can be tricky, relationships can be hard and a lot of us feel very stuck in certain relationships that don't seem to move or change or get better. What if we came at those relationships with increased and intentional gratitude?

Speaker 2:

Stay with us, We'll be right back. Podcast. Join me to hear the Bible read line by line and clearly explained. Listen to the Word of God in your car or home or work while it transforms your mind daily. Romans 12 says don't be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind so that you may prove what the will of God is, which is good and acceptable and perfect. Knowing the Bible can give you peace and joy in this hectic world. Listen weekly to Ashley T Lee podcast on all podcast sites.

Speaker 1:

Told that person what we were thankful for.

Speaker 2:

What if?

Speaker 1:

we went to God and thanked him for what is good in that relationship. I mean, I'm not minimizing what's hard, I'm not minimizing what's hard at all, but this could really make a difference. I know it does in my own marriage. It makes such a difference when I am practicing gratitude about my husband. And again, whether you practice gratitude about the persons or not, just practicing gratitude at all is going to light up that part of your brain that helps you appreciate anybody else, which is amazing, as long as there's dopamine involved.

Speaker 1:

We're happy. Yeah, we love. We love that dopamine and that's natural. That's god's design. Thank you, god, so much for making a way for our relationships to be enhanced, for our empathy to be greater. We need that, lord. I'm just really grateful that you made a way in our brain for that to happen. Thank you so much, god. Thank you, number six. A neuroscientific value of practicing gratitude is that practicing gratitude also results in enhanced cognitive function.

Speaker 1:

Yes, and this is where I am reading my notes, because gratitude boosts activity in the. Are you ready for this? Yes, geek out with me. Brain's anterior cingulate cortex is involved in cognitive functions such as decision-making and attention regulation. So, yeah, I want to thank God that gratitude of any kind, any time of the day or night, helps my brain to function so much better. It enhances my cognitive function by stimulating my brain's anterior cingulate cortex B-A-C-C. And here's another one I love. This. Number seven is practicing. Gratitude causes me to obsess, perseverate and ruminate less. Wow.

Speaker 1:

What does that mean Perseverate? You know, hang out on the same thought and hang out on the same thought and hang out on the same thought. Some people call it spinning, and thoughts are spinning in your mind and you cannot stop them, or you don't, you don't, and there's some of us that choose not to for some reason. But basically, any practice of gratitude at all can cause your brain to redirect its attention away from negative rumination. It doesn't get us anywhere really to just think about it and think about it and think about it. It doesn't get us anywhere really to just think about it and think about it and think about it. The gratitude practice actually promotes a more positive thought pattern and reduces symptoms of depression. Well, I don't know anybody that's dealing with anxiety or depression or ruminating.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

Well. So what are ways that we might do this? We mentioned spinning, but maybe it's an adult child that you know you wish they would make different choices. How many of us lay awake at night spinning about that? Anyway, it's awesome to think that a practice of gratitude, any practice of gratitude, any time of the day or night, it's going to impact that tendency that we have to obsess about negative things and it will flip that switch that helps us to establish better thought patterns. I love that. Yeah, that's amazing, you know, rather than going home and oh, I can't stop thinking about these things.

Speaker 1:

What does the Bible say about worry? Yeah, a single hour to your life, right, yeah, it does. It says that, yes, jesus said it. Yeah, you can't add a single hour to your life. And, in fact, many of us kind of take hours off our lives because we stress out and cortisol levels, I mean all of that stuff. It's like, instead of gratitude, when we do other things, like this negative rumination thing, we're releasing chemicals into our bodies too. But let's not, let's, let's go with gratitude, let's do it.

Speaker 1:

And what you said earlier, Heidi, you said we get to choose.

Speaker 2:

We get to choose.

Speaker 1:

We're not stuck, we actually get to make a choice. We're not stuck, we actually get to make a choice. Thank you, Lord, that one of the ways my brain responds to gratitude is by establishing new patterns of thought that keep me thinking less about negative things and depressed less too. Thank you God. Well, number eight practicing gratitude also leads to what science has called a more balanced self-esteem. I want to think of it this way that you know God says some things are true of me. I want to have a godly sense of my worth and my value and self-respect because of what God says is true about me. There is nothing in me that deserves any of that, but he has attributed it to me. So I love the fact that gratitude activates the brain's reward system, that dopamine thing, so it can actually lead to an increased sense of I'm okay because God has made me okay and I can see myself more through his eyes than I otherwise would.

Speaker 1:

And we all know what this looks like, where we beat ourselves up, you know, for all kinds of things. I shared in one of our classes maybe on the podcast here too about how I would wake up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, and the whole way to the bathroom and back I'd be ripping myself up one side and down the other for gaining weight and I would be grabbing the rolls around my middle. And who does that? I did that, and I bet others do too, but what is so awesome is God has changed that. I have not done that, and I really believe that practicing gratitude for this body that he's given me, for the other things that he's done in my life, has helped me to see myself and my body I will say that with his eyes, and so I'm just so thankful, god, that I can see myself more through your eyes, and I do that because gratitude is changing my brain. It's changing my brain. Thank you, it is, it is, yeah, I love that, and I just say that that's something that I've been working on too, and, of course, in our classes we're working on it, and with our one-on-one coaching ladies as well. The more that we are grateful for our bodies, the more that we want to take care of them. I mean, it's like it all comes together. It all goes together Right. Gratitude. It's really quite amazing and life changing. Really, it is Okay.

Speaker 1:

So I really wanted this one because for so many years, these are the things that I would say about myself. I am so emotional. I am overly emotional. I'm an emotional eater. Everything I do is about my emotions. I felt very much owned by my emotions for a very long time and I I felt like maybe I wasn't normal, you know, but I realized now that God made me in his image just the way I am, and emotions are here for a reason. Um, so get this. Practicing gratitude actually enhances emotional regulation. Wow, oh my gosh. This is amazing. When we practice gratitude, our brains emotional centers are more balanced. This leads to improved emotional regulation and better mood management. I love the term mood management, but this is so great and I've seen it in my own life a thousand times ever since I started renewing my mind.

Speaker 1:

So much of what we do in mind renewal is gratitude, so much of it is gratitude and praise, and I noticed that I am more emotionally, even more emotionally steady, you know, not going down that path of weeping and despair and taking things so personally. When we are full of gratitude, it just, it really changes and this is the science that proves it. I love that and I'm just going to thank you God because, boy, you knew that I needed this. I needed for my brain to be making new patterns in this area of mood. That's great. Well, and number 10 is practicing gratitude results in long-term brain changes. So I've said this for years Gratitude can change your moment. Yes, gratitude can also change your life, and so this is true Consistent gratitude practice, practicing gratitude daily, can lead to lasting changes in your neural pathways.

Speaker 1:

It strengthens positive thinking patterns in your neural pathways. It strengthens positive thinking patterns. It promotes emotional wellbeing, even over time, not just in the moment, but over time. So long-term brain changes. Thank you very much. Please sign me up. Thank you, god, that practicing gratitude does change my brain in the long-term and it affects everything. Thank you for that. Let's just quickly review each of those 10 benefits of the neuroscience horrific marvel of gratitude. The first one Christina. We know that practicing gratitude improves mood and happiness, yay. And number two practicing gratitude reduces stress and anxiety Yay, love it. Number three practicing gratitude enhances resilience. Number four practicing gratitude can enable you to enjoy better sleep, wonderful. Number five practicing gratitude increases empathy and social connection of that.

Speaker 1:

Number six practicing gratitude results in enhanced cognitive function. Yes, thank you very much. Yes. Number seven practicing gratitude causes me to obsess, perseverate and ruminate less.

Speaker 2:

Yes.

Speaker 1:

Yes. Number eight practicing gratitude can lead to a more balanced self-esteem. I can see myself as God does. Ooh, I love that. Number nine practicing gratitude enhances emotional regulation, and let me just say mood management, and let me just say mood management. Oh. And number 10, practicing gratitude results in long-term brain changes. I like those long-term brain changes.

Speaker 1:

Thank you, I do too, so there's 10 really big neuroscientific ways that gratitude impacts our brains and rewires us in all in beautiful, amazing, positive ways. I mean, if nothing else, that dopamine is worth it. Yes, it is. We know you're mine today with gratitude. This has been fun, it really has. It's been wonderful. I have loved doing this podcast with you, heidi. I'm so grateful yeah, me too and we're grateful for you too, and we hope that you're grateful for listening to this podcast episode. I hope you'll join us again for our next episode of Revelation Within on the go. Bye for now, bye-bye.

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