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Gratitude is a Choice by: Shanti Medina

At the Neurosculpting® Institute, we empower our students with the knowledge that we each have the ability to choose, in each moment, where we place our attention and therefore direct our energy and vital resources. Cultivating an attitude of gratitude begins with a choice to focus our attention in the present moment on our gratitude rather than directing our awareness elsewhere. This simple act of choosing to be grateful empowers our brain to shift out of, or down-regulate, our flight/fight center while engaging the areas of our brain wired for gratitude and trust.  

As Thích Nhất Hạnh shares in his well-known meditation, with each breath we can cultivate a sense of trust and gratitude in knowing that “this is a wonderful moment.” Simply repeating this embodied breathing meditation and choosing where we focus our attention, we literally shift our experience into growing our gratitude one breath at a time. This wires our brains for change by creating pathways toward calm, ease, and gratitude.

I recently asked Lisa Wimberger, Founder of Neurosculpting® Institute, to share how gratitude can shift our neurobiology and uplift humanity.

Gratitude is more than a mindset. It’s a mind shift even at a neuroanatomical level. When we practice gratitude we see increased activity in the front of the brain near the midline. This area correlates to empathy, compassion, a solution-mindset, and an ability to see the bigger picture. Gratitude is like the prime fuel for our greatest acts of humanity.

To experience this shift, consider watching Lisa’s 4-minute Sounds True video to train your brain in making a choice toward gratitude: Self-select the Positive.  

In sharing our grateful heart with others, we inspire the flame of gratitude to spread as we invite others to receive our gratitude as a gift from the heart. Lisa further shared her gratitude for a luminary in her life, Tami Simon, Founder of Sounds True, “Tami is a woman I both look up to and I’m grateful for. She role models how to manifest the subtle nature of gratitude.”  

I invited Tami to receive Lisa’s gratitude for her work in the world by sharing the importance of gratitude in her life and what that gratitude means to her.

I learned the most about gratitude from Brother David Stendl-Rast, a 90-year old Benedictine monk who currently lives in a monastery in Austria. About 25 years ago, Sounds True recorded an audio series with Brother David called, “The Grateful Heart,” and here is the core message I received from this audio: That all of our life has been given to us. We, on our own, have not created the blue sky, the breeze, our bodies, or our world. All of life and our very existence have been given to us as a gift.

This teaching on gratitude is important to me because it reminds me of my place in the world. I am a recipient. And that even the chance to fight for justice, to work to create a kinder and more caring world, is a gift that has been given to me. This view enables me to appreciate this very breath and moment as something that came to me as no result of my own effort but as pure gift.

Tapping into this perspective on gratitude enables me to drop any position I might have about what is happening in the present moment, all of the things I like and don’t like about whatever is occurring. I don’t try to talk myself into having a positive attitude or use a bunch of affirmations to remind myself to practice gratitude (not that there is anything wrong with that approach, just that it never worked well for me). Instead, I simply drop into remembrance that absolutely everything that is occurring has been given, and I am a humble recipient of life unfolding.

With this perspective, gratitude becomes unconditional. I can be grateful for the challenges of life as well as the joys. All of life is a gift.

To learn more about Tami and her inspirational multimedia publishing company she founded at the age of 22 in 1985, visit Sounds True, or consider listening to her interview with Lisa Wimberger on Insights at the Edge audio podcast in which Lisa explains how we can “set up our brains for change”: Neurosculpting® our Brains for Change.

Shanti Medina Shanti Medina

Shanti Medina is the Director of Development and Branding at the Neurosculpting Institute. She created Energize training systems and Body Current® therapeutics after more than 15 years designing transformational personal therapy and wellness programs for clients. Body Current is an application of somatosensory practices and entrainment principles to empower self-realization and embodied living with each breath.  She is a Certified Neurosculpting® Facilitator and Yoga Therapist sharing her Body Current modality as a presenter at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health as well as faculty for the Neurosculpting Institute Facilitator Certification. Find out more about Shanti at

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