Gratitude. It’s everywhere these days. We’ve graduated from “count your blessings” to millions of research dollars being funded to understand this little attitude. (Which would make my grandmother choke on a chicken bone. She would have given you the advice for free.)
What’s all the fuss about? If you’ve been looking for a gratitude fix lately, you’re in luck. It’s the hot new ‘tude. So much so, that the pocket protecting crowd is rallying around this little mind set and following the neurons around to see why they make such a huge impact on our well being.
Gratitude, The New Wonder Drug
Lots of research has been conducted into different areas of how gratitude impacts the human mind and body and the results have surprised even the most stoic researchers.
The daily practice of gratitude has been found to:
- reduce stress and lower stress hormones like cortisol
- improve the quality and duration of sleep
- increase desire to exercise
- lower blood pressure
- lower risk of major depression
- improves self esteem
And this is just the beginning.
One of the best parts is this little wonder attitude doesn’t come with the long list of side affects that accompany most pharmaceuticals out there: “this drug has been linked to sudden loss of limbs, a desire to stab the person next to you, permanent blindness, a desire to eat your neighbor’s lawn.”
The worst that can happen is your pen running out of ink from you listing all the terrific things happening in your life. Of course, there is the risk of someone slapping you at a cocktail party for the shit eating grin on your face. Sometimes life is risky like that.
So why does being grateful makes such a difference? Yea, I was wondering the same thing.
Hardwiring, It’s a Brain Thing
It has to do with the hard wiring in our brain. Think of your brain like a river and your thoughts like the water flowing down it. Most of the time the thoughts just flow through without making a lasting impact, kind of like ripples on the water.
However, intense, repeated, conscious behaviour makes an impact on the direction of the river, shaping and directing it’s course, like a surging current. Repeated, conscious mental states become neural traits. There’s even a catchy, geeky little phrase for this:
Neurons that fire together, wire together.
If you feel you’re caught in a frustrated, angry cycle in your life, guess what? Those little cranky neurons are buddying up and conspiring against you ever feeling good. Your attention is like a dust buster with a headlight, whatever it sees it sucks up into your brain, for better or worse. You can stop wondering why you never feel relaxed and happy. It’s science. Sorry.
No Prescription Needed How do we change the current to happy thoughts, get a little gratitude in our lives and make it a habit? Don’t fret (it’s bad for your neurons!), it’s easier than you think.
Here are a few simple, easy steps to take right now, today, to start bringing more Gratitude into your life:
- Right now, this moment, stop reading and write down 3 things you’re grateful for.
- Now take a few seconds and breathe in and out and feel the pleasure of each of them (No, this is not woo-woo hippy stuff, this is science. Honest.)
- Tonight, before bed, write down 1 different thing you were grateful for today.
- Keep a gratitude log for the rest of the month, 3 things every morning and 1 thing every night. It’ll take you 5 minutes a day. Super easy. You can do it.
To start your own gratitude list, click the image below to download and print:
If you need a little push, here’s a handy dandy Gratitude List I put together just for you. Print it out and fill it in all week long. It’s super easy and will provide a long list of benefits for you.
Really, it’s the best deal going.