How Our Brains Respond to Gratitude

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Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, which means that along with spending time with our families and overeating turkey and side dishes, many of us will think at least a little bit about what we are thankful for in our lives. Whether that be our aforementioned families, our careers, our educations, or something more tangible such as the discounted items we can buy on Black Friday, the holiday unofficially requires us to gives thanks for something before we dive into the mashed potatoes. Is there, however, something more to giving thanks than simply assuaging grandma at the dinner table?

As it turns out, there is. Studying the effects of gratitude on the brain is nothing new–studies on the topic seem to have begun in the early 2000s–and the results appear to remain consistent regardless of the methodology used. In short, having gratitude has positive effects on us psychologically and neurologically, so we should probably try to be more thankful throughout the year instead of waiting for November. Continue reading

Brainwave’s “Grief and Gratitude”

Attachment is the theme of the Rubin Museum of Art’s 2015’s Brainwave series—what does it really mean to attach? Yes, we become attached to a large range of “things,” including our smartphones, our daily routines, and even our feelings of success and happiness. The greatest and most powerful attachments we form, however, are to people. I may fear losing my iPhone or breaking my favorite mug, but the loss of a loved one would be exceedingly more devastating.

In a poignant and honest talk between professor of clinical psychology and researcher George A. Bonanno and economist Sonali Deraniyagala, author of Wave, a book about the loss of her immediate family—her two sons, husband, and parents—to the 2004 tsunami in Sri Lanka, she eloquently discussed her personal experience with grief.

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