The Science of Gratitude & How to Build a Gratitude Practice

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In this episode, Dr. Huberman discusses the science of gratitude, shown in peer-reviewed studies, to have tremendous positive effects on mental and physical health. He explains, however, that most commonly used gratitude practices are ineffective (such as gratitude lists). The key elements of highly effective gratitude practices are described, including the essential need for story (narrative), receiving or perceiving gratitude rather than giving it, and the role that theory of mind plays in this context. Dr. Huberman also discusses why we can’t simply make up feelings of gratitude and how reluctance undermines the process. He also explains the neural circuit mechanisms that underlie the reductions in fear and increases in motivation and lowering of inflammatory chemicals that effective narrative-based gratitude can trigger. Throughout the episode, he uses the science of gratitude to design a brief but highly effective protocol.


  • 00:00:00 Introduction: Gratitude Science & Surprises
  • 00:01:50 Controlling Heart Rate with Story
  • 00:04:33 Sponsors: ROKA, InsideTracker, Magic Spoon
  • 00:09:11 Major, Long-Lasting Benefits of Gratitude Practice
  • 00:12:20 Prosocial vs. Defensive Thinking, Behaviors, & Neural Circuits
  • 00:17:50 Why We All Need an Effective Gratitude Practice
  • 00:21:22 Neurochemistry & Neural Circuits of Gratitude
  • 00:25:10 Prefrontal Cortex Set Context
  • 00:30:10 Ineffective Gratitude Practices; Autonomic Variables
  • 00:34:55 Key Features of Effective Gratitude Practices: Receiving Thanks & Story
  • 00:42:30 Theory of Mind Is Key
  • 00:45:50 Building Effective Gratitude Practices: Adopting Narratives, Duration
  • 00:52:28 Narratives That Shift Brain-Body Circuits
  • 00:56:15 You Can’t Lie About Liking Something; Reluctance In Giving
  • 00:59:55 How Gratitude Changes Your Brain: Reduces Anxiety, Increases Motivation
  • 01:03:00 5 Minutes (Is More Than Enough), 3X Weekly, Timing Each Day
  • 01:05:44 Empathy & Anterior Cingulate Cortex
  • 01:07:35 Reducing Inflammation & Fear with Gratitude
  • 01:10:56 Serotonin, Kanna/Zembrin
  • 01:16:00 Neuroplasticity, Pharmacology, Brain Machine Interfaces
  • 01:18:50 The Best Gratitude Practices: & How To, My Protocol
  • 01:24:25 Subscribe & Feedback, Supporting Sponsors, Supplements (Thorne)