Today marks Thanksgiving for our friends across the United States and it seemed like a good day to talk about how you can foster a mentality of giving by being grateful. This is more than just a spiritual sentiment it’s also a strong scientific suspicion! There has been a flurry of research in recent decades which indicates that gratitude can rewire our brains into being more altruistic. We’ve learned through several scientific studies that there’s a deep neural connection between gratitude and giving: meaning that when we’re grateful, our brains become more charitable.
Christina Karns, a neuroscientist at the University of Oregon, is one of the leading researchers in this field, who studied this connection by scanning the brains of subjects who were asked to watch a computer transfer money into their own account or give it to a food bank. She found a part of the brain responded to the charity getting the money “The participants I’d identified as more grateful and more altruistic via a questionnaire [showed] a stronger response in these reward regions of the brain when they saw the charity gaining money. It felt good for them to see the food bank do well,” she said. She kept it going by having them write in a journal, some were asked to write things they were grateful for, and others to just record events. “The people in the gratitude-journaling contingent reported experiencing more thankfulness. What’s more, the reward regions of their brain started responding more to charitable giving than to gaining money for themselves.”
You can find out much more about this study in your Good News Story of the Day here, and more about how to practice being grateful. It doesn’t have to be Thanksgiving to be thankful, and it doesn’t have to be Christmas to be giving! You can practice both year round.
Story and Image from VOX.