Christians who believe in God and the power of confessional prayer can utilize these dynamics to transform the Affective Brain through a daily practice of Gratitude Confessions. Defining gratitude as: The memory of an experience to which I see some new value and then take action to affirm that value to myself and others, these five confessions represent a developmental approach: it begins with admitting our failure to appreciate things that benefit us the most (Social Gratitude) but finds its fullest development in expressions of value for others--not for what they do for us but for who they are in themselves (Pure Gratitude). Gratitude Confessions assume what we need most of all is not to feel “positive emotions” about ourselves but to feel free of our sin. Confession is the key. Here are five things you can do today to experience what I mean.
Confession of Social Ingratitude: Social gratitude is the expression of basic etiquette and politeness. It says, “Please” and “Thank You” and Excuse Me when leaving the table. Social ingratitude means we have not remembered to do so. Example: “I have not remembered to display basic etiquette and politeness in the circumstances of my life ... Lord, please be merciful to me.”
Confession of Personal Ingratitude: Personal gratitude is the expression of the value of people and things because of how they benefit our lives. Personal ingratitude means we have not remembered or noticed them. Example: “I have not remembered to express the value of people and things that have benefited me… Lord, please be merciful to me.”
Confession of Hidden Ingratitude: Hidden gratitude sets the benefit of “return gratitude” aside and expresses appreciation anonymously. Hidden ingratitude is trying to get return gratitude for benefits better left hidden. Example: “I have not expressed anonymously the value of people and things that have benefited me… Lord, please be merciful to me.”
Confession of Higher Ingratitude: Higher gratitude looks deeply at the painful or disappointing memories from our past and seeks to find new value in them in light of God’s larger purpose. Higher ingratitude refuses to reevaluate them, choosing rather to dwell on the pain. Example: “I have not transformed my painful memories by redefining their value and expressing it to others… Lord, please be merciful to me.”
Confession of Pure Ingratitude: Pure gratitude sets all personal benefit or recognition aside and simply focuses on the value of the other. This kind of gratitude is best devoted to God where we just appreciate him for who he is, not even for what he has done. Example: “I have not expressed your value simply for who you are rather I’ve focused too much on how you’ve benefited me… Lord, please be merciful to me.”
I could spend many paragraphs mounting evidence to support my claim that ingratitude is a fundamental cause of the ills in our lives. Gratitude represents a powerful “positive emotion” the confession of which can overcome and rebalance the neurochemical activity in the Control System. If gratitude becomes a pattern, as it was for Jesus, even during the great stresses and anxieties of life we can actually redirect activity in the Hypothalamus and rewire it to handle our emotions differently and create a new feeling of ‘normal” in our lives.
I’ve found in my own expressions of gratitude that it is important to smile when I’m doing it. I know that may sound strange but it is true. A smile reflects attitudes of gratitude but also triggers neuro-chemical activity in the brain that makes us feel better. Let me talk for a moment about how this works.
Psychologist Paul Eckman has researched facial expressions and how they indicate affective states. One of his most interesting observations relates to smiles. According to Eckman, not all smiles are created equal! Eckman’s research identified 18 different types of smiles based on which muscles in the face were being used. Do you want to guess how many of those smiles produced genuine feelings of happiness and joy? Only one. Eckman called it the “Duchenne Smile” after the French 19th century scientist named Duchenne who first noted that some smiles are genuine and others artificial. The genuine smile is produced not just by a movement of the mouth but also the tiny expressions around the eyes. Duchenne and Eckman and others believe it is possible to identify what is going on in a person’s heart based on these micro-expressions. In fact, Eckman’s theory is the basis for training of law enforcement officers like FBI investigators and Secret Service agents. 
In a genuine Duchenne Smile the muscles around the eyes wrinkle gently, the cheeks pull upward slightly, and the corners of the mouth turn upward smoothly and broadly. Any other smile is probably mixed with other feelings—like fear, shame or pride.
When you offer a genuine, heart-felt smile of gratitude to God or to another person is not only reflects a level of sincere appreciation. It also releases neuro-transmitters called endorphins that make you feel better. These endorphins can actually counter-act the effects of more negative neurotransmitters. The point is, sincere gratitude is a powerful emotion. No wonder God expects us to live every day like it was Thanksgiving (1 Thessalonians 5:18-20)--but, without the turkey.
 See Robert Enright, Forgiveness is a Choice, 2004
 J Franck, P Eckman, Not All Smiles are Created Equal: The Difference Between Enjoyment and Non-Enjoyment Smiles, 1982