When we begin to harness the feeling of gratitude, we become capable of changing the world around us.

When we experience an emotion, our brain releases tiny molecules called neuropeptides. For every emotion we have there’s a specific neuropeptide. So love, gratitude, anger, joy, resentment, are all represented by specific chemicals in the brain. When these chemicals are released from the brain, they travel through the blood stream and attach themselves to receptor sites located on cell walls throughout our body.

When a neuropeptide locks into a receptor, it changes the behaviour of the cell to fit with the emotion represented by that specific neuropeptide. This is why, when we experience an emotion, it’s not just a mental process, but rather, it’s experienced as a physical feeling in the body. So, for example, when you feel nervous you get a feeling of butterflies in your stomach. Or you get so scared that you go weak at the knees.

Relating this biological process to how we see the world, think of it like this. You perceive something in your outer environment. Let’s say it’s a shadow in the corner of your room. Based on how you perceive that shadow your brain will release chemicals that will create a reaction in your body. So in this case, let’s say seeing the shadow makes you feel scared because you think it might be a burglar that has broken into your house. Your brain releases fear neuropeptides, which lock into receptor sites in your cells. Your body then reacts by generating physical symptoms associated with fear.

Emotional Feedback Loop

Once your body reacts in a specific way, it sends messages back to your brain saying, I’m afraid, which enhances the initial response of fear. So we now have a feedback loop between the brain and body, which is very difficult to break. This applies to all emotional reactions.

How does this relate to positively changing the world around us? Well, reality responds to the way we perceive it. That’s to say, if I see the world as a happy place, my experience of life will be a happy one, just as if I perceive the world as a sad place, my experience will be a sad one. So by changing our perception, we change our experience, and this is where gratitude comes into the equation.

Most of us experience gratitude as the effect of something positive happening to us, and this is perfectly fine, however, if we only experience gratitude in this way, we’re missing out on a powerful tool that could transform our lives. What if, instead of experiencing gratitude as an effect, we experienced it as a cause? What would happen then?

So let’s say we want to have a really amazing, happy, fun-filled day tomorrow. To make this a reality, we imagine the gratitude we would experience in response to having such a day. You can try this for yourself right now. Imagine that you’ve just had the happiest, most fun-filled day of your life. Now try to generate a feeling of immense gratitude for that experience. What do you think is happening in your body right now? Your brain has released gratitude neuropeptides. In response, your body is beginning to experience gratitude. Now a positive feedback loop is being generated between your brain and body, enhancing your feelings of gratitude, which in turn, changes your perception of the world around you.

In effect, you’ve turned your body into a kind a magnet, designed to draw positive experiences into your life. We can use this powerful tool in every aspect of our lives.

Gratitude is the key to creating positive change.