Nature, Nurture and Personality Traits Affect Capacity to Experience Gratitude

Gratitude is the capacity to: do three things: first, to recognize/acknowledge that something or someone has given us pleasure or met a need , second to feel thankfulness for it, and third to find meaningful ways to express that thankfulness.

The capacity to experience gratitude requires the presence of two genes, CD38 and one called COMT.  People who don’t have these genes are unable to experience it. Other indwelling personality traits such as envy, materialism, narcissism, and cynicism are barriers to experiencing gratitude

These significant bits of knowledge certainly weren’t part of my education at any point. In fact it makes it hard for those of us who can experience and express gratitude to understand/accept that others are physically incapable of it or have difficulty in experiencing it.

So, here I am in my advanced age discovering and trying to combine four realities about gratitude.

  • It is impossible for some people to feel gratitude due to the absence of two genes and difficult for others due to inherent personality traits.
  •  Being grateful produces secretions of chemicals in some brain cells resulting in an increased sense of wellbeing and subsequent health maintenance or improvement.
  • The aging brain can remain plastic, and has the capacity to grow dendrites, synapses, and neurons if we keep using it by actively, seeking to understand and creatively work with our everyday living experiences.
  • Purposeful engagement in gratitude recognition and related activities can sharpen and enhance one’s capacity to discover reasons to be grateful.
  • These mental activities can physiologically promote wellbeing and health.

EWA blogs during the rest of November will focus on working with gratitude situation recognition strategies. If there are viewers who can’t or have difficulty in experiencing  gratitude, perhaps they’ll discover different forms of identifying situations that are seen as advantageous or rewarding to them (Different strokes for different folks.) 

8 thoughts on “Nature, Nurture and Personality Traits Affect Capacity to Experience Gratitude

  1. I have learned something new! Wow. We have gratitude genes. I’m so thankful I have them. And these thoughts are coming at exactly thei right time. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I love counting my blessings and giving thanks. I give thanks for you.


  2. Oh, Doris! This post is SO enlightening! I am very grateful for you, and for having the physiological building blocks of gratitude. It also sheds light on some in my inner circle who don’t seem to experience it. For them I feel compassion.


  3. Over and over, I learn to be compassionate where once I would have felt puzzled, or at worst, judgemental. I had no idea that there may be a genetic basis for the inability to feel gratitude. Thank goodness gratitude can be learned by starting a habit. I look forward to new blog posts on this subject and for now, I’m just grateful I can feel grateful.


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