I love corned beef hash.
But who can afford to pay $3 for a little can of it.
So recently I saw corned beef hash
for only $1.99 at Walmart.
I drove home drooling over the prospect of
enjoying it for breakfast the next morn!
Until family says,
“Perfect, we’ll take that to Denver for our brunch this weekend!”
Moment of decision and reaction:
♥ Give thanks—that we’ll be seeing our daughters for brunch and sharing MY corned beef hash with them?
♦ Or complain and moan: “That’s my corned beef hash that I was dreaming of for breakfast this morn! I was figuring on half the can!”
Grateful? Or gripe? The situation comes up countless times a day. Spiritually the choice is clear. Sounds like a no-brainer!
Who knew it’s neuroscience!
Study of the brain is discovering that our thankfulness or negativity changes the neurons in our brain. We build a network of thankfulness or complaining in our three pounds of grey matter.
It has to do with synapses. What’s a synapse? “Is that in Google Store?”
No gripes about my joke, please!
A synapse is a minute gap at the end of a neuron. When we think, synapses “fire” and send signals across to other synapses. This forms a bridge over which signals and information are transferred.
“Complaining and the Brain—How ‘Bad Karma’ Is Created” by Viatcheslav Wlasoff, Ph.D.
Should it surprise us that somebody who understands neuroscience has a name you can’t spell or pronounce!
Never mind that, the exciting discovery here is that each time an electrical charge triggers, the synapses involved are actually brought closer to each other.
When it’s time for a new thought—give thanks or complain—the one most likely to surface is the one which can form a bridge between synapses in the shortest period of time.
“What all this means,” writes Dr. Wlasoff, “is that thinking about something initially makes it easier to think about it again in the future. As such, if a person is constantly unhappy, it makes it more likely that he or she will continue to have negative thoughts if nothing is done about it. On the bright side, though, this also suggests that if we make a conscious effort to think positive thoughts, the positive feedback cycle helps us to become a more optimistic personality as well.”
We build a neuron network in our brains by what we think. And then that change of neurons most often fired gives us a bias to think that way again.
Hebb’s Law puts it: “Neurons that fire together wire together.”
“So,” says Alex Korb, Ph.D. in “The Grateful Brain—the neuroscience of giving thanks,” Nov. 20, 2012, “once you start seeing things to be grateful for, your brain starts looking for more things to be grateful for …” It creates a virtuous cycle. We look for what’s right instead of for problems.
This is boosted because it feels good! Expressing gratitude increases the production of serotonin and dopamine. These neurotransmitters then fire up the bliss center of the brain.
It’s like we make paths of thinking—and the more we walk down them, the more they get welcoming, and the more we choose them.
A desire becomes a thought, then an action, then a habit, and finally character.
Neuroscience is also discovering that
Who we spend time with can change our thinking subconsciously
Yes, expressing negativity can be bad for both complainer and listener. Giving thanks can fire up both the speaker and listener. No wonder “The righteous should choose his friends carefully” (Prov. 12:26). And the righteous should be an example to others.
So when you wake up each day, thank God for a new day of life. Each day is a gift from God, called the present! Dr. Natalie Engelbart advises that we start each day by specifying five blessings.
The Blesser commands through Paul, “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thes. 5:18).
I want to move my giving thanks synapses so close together that they hug!
I want Christian neurons! Who wants a Complaint Department upstairs! Who really wants the nerve to say that.
The next time you stand at the crossroads, choose the thanks road.
Start a virtuous cycle, not a vicious one.
Instead of beefing, give thanks for the Hormel you can share—in my case, Mary’s Kitchen.
Recent research finds that complaining corrupts the portion of the brain called the hippocampus. You wouldn’t want hippos to not be able to go to college. Seriously, decision-making and intelligent thought center there.
So it sounds like a no-brainer but it isn’t. Our brains are “fearfully and wonderfully made,” as David exclaimed in Psa. 139:14.
The right spiritual choice through the Holy Spirit guiding our spirit in man changes our physical brain—which then promotes our future spiritual choices and inspires those around us to be thankful too! Exhortation by people and scripture is great, but I hope you’re like me that
This neuroscience motivates me extra special
to want to make the right choice to give thanks.