Gratitude Rewires

Thinkful for Percimony

My youngest granddaughter Perci is learning to walk. She lurches, wobbles, and falls, but gets back up. It is so precious to see her try to move one foot in front of the other and maintain balance. Not an easy feat!

But after awhile, she will “learn” – she will have actually unwittingly hardwired her brain to move her body toward her goal without thinking through the steps. She will simply lean and start, alternate between legs, maintain her balance, turn left and right, and achieve her little goals!

It takes months of trial and error, but once the neuro-pathways are developed, it will happen automatically. Percimony will know how to walk.🚶‍♀️

Percimony is also developing a much deeper skill for life – problem solving. She had a desired target across the room (the piano). She decided to take stock of her resources to get there, which were not good since she lacked coordination. She could have sat in a puddle of weeping and woes, but she decided to work at it; trying and failing until she felt her skills getting better. In time, she got there.

How Is Your Brain Wired?

The beautiful thing about Percimony’s brain is that it is new. It is getting wired and programmed for the first time, and wow does it learn quickly. For the rest of us, the ability to learn is getting slower and more difficult as time goes by. What is even more difficult is the task of learning something differently from the way you’ve always done it. This is what the Bible calls “renewing,” which requires a bit of “undoing” first.

To “renew your mind” (Romans 12:2, Ephesians 4:23) is to actively examine your thinking in the light of God’s Truth (John 17:17) to assure that you are thinking correctly. It is to identify and root out wrong perceptions of who God is, who Jesus is, who the Spirit is, who your neighbor is, who you are, and how you should relate to these others. Paul wrote that we are to “destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). We may need to identify and painfully pull down idols of the heart like the desires for control, comfort, and affirmation that have woven their way through all our thoughts.

We are then to plug in thinking that pleases God. This takes work, repetition, and time. It may take an accountability partner to help give you a little signal when “you’re doing it again.” You will likely need to memorize verses in areas where you are weak, and meditate on those truths (Psalm 1:2).

Rewiring for Gratitude!

So perhaps you’re grumpy, chronically unthankful, a glass-half-empty, little black raincloud to all who know you. Perhaps you dismiss it as just being a problem-spotter, or being an idealist, or “just stating the obvious.” While improvements are normally helpful, the truth is that God commands us to give thanks in everything (Ephesians 5:20). Even if it needs fixing, we can begin with thinking thanks. It helps wire our brains correctly to first search for and highlight the good, then move on to remedies.

I love it when the secular experts “discover” what God has long said is actually really good for us.

“Studies have shown that performing simple gratitude exercises, like keeping a gratitude diary or writing letters of thanks, can bring a range of benefits.”

Christian Jarrett

One notable study followed over 40 participants seeking treatment for depression and anxiety. Half were asked to write letters expressing gratitude before the first few counseling sessions, while the rest formed a control group who attended “therapy-as usual.” Three months later, both groups were asked to perform a generosity task while being measured by MRI.

According to Jarrett: “The participants who’d completed the gratitude task months earlier not only reported feeling more gratefulness two weeks after the task than members of the control group, but also, months later, showed more gratitude-related brain activity in the scanner. The researchers described these ‘profound’ and ‘long-lasting’ neural effects as ‘particularly noteworthy’..[This suggests] that the more practice you give your brain at feeling and expressing gratitude, the more it adapts to the mindset…a sort of gratitude ‘muscle’ that can be exercised and strengthened.”

NeuroImage Volume 128, March 2016, Pages 1-10

Exercising My Gratitude Muscle

YAY!!!! Percimony took steps into her daddy’s arms. So much celebration followed. Perci even clapped for herself. :). I am exercising my gratitude muscle as I rehearse so many things for which I am thankful to God. He is a good, good Father and is helping me renew my mind to think on what is true, what is good, what is sufficient, and what is trustworthy. I can give thanks to Him for everything because He is the ultimate Authority in all my days and moments, and does all things well.

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.”

Robert Brault

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