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Sierra Pines Church

12 Ways to Turn Your Pain into Praise

Sapphires from Psalms

Better Than Jewels

My story The Blessed List was chosen to be shared on the Chicken Soup for the Soul Podcast on Sept 4th! You can catch it by clicking here.

Hateful Brain vs. Grateful Brain

Fascinating research by Dr. Daniel Amen

 informs us that what we think about can actually dictate our brain health. For years we have known that brain chemistry can dictate our thoughts. Current analysis of the brain tells us that the reverse is true as well, our thoughts can dictate brain health! If we choose to focus on negative thoughts it can cause damage to certain sections of the brain.

 If you want your brain to work better, be grateful for the good things in your life.  Dr. Daniel Amen at the Amen Clinic in Southern Cal. and Psychologist Noelle Nelson and did a study on gratitude and appreciation.  She was working on a book called the Power of Appreciation and had her brain scanned twice.  The first time she was scanned after 30 minutes of meditating on all the things she was thankful for in her life.  After the “meditation appreciation,” her brain looked very healthy.

Then she was scanned several days later after focusing on her major FEARS. She had a string of frightening thoughts:  “If my dog got sick, I couldn’t go to work because I would have to stay home to care for him…I didn’t go to work, however, I would lose my job...If I lost my job, I wouldn’t have enough money to take my dog to the vet and he would likely die... If the dog died, I would be so depressed I still would be able to go back to work… Then I would lose my home and be homeless.”

 Her frightened brain very different from her healthy gratitude brain and showed seriously decreased activity in two parts of her brain.  The cerebellum was completely shut down.  When the cerebellum is low in activity, people tend to be clumsier physically and less likely to think their way out of problems.  They think and process more slowly and get confused more easily.

 The other area of her brain that was affected was the temporal lobe’s, especially the one on the left.  The temporal lobes are involved with the mood, memory, and temper control.  Problems in this part of the brain are associated with forms of depression, but also dark thoughts, violence, and memory problems.  When Noelle frightened herself with negative thinking, her temporal lobes became less active.  Negative thought patterns change the brain in a negative way. Practicing gratitude literally helps you have a brain to be thankful for.


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