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Easy Ways To Cultivate Gratitude Starting Today

11Nov

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.

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 the 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: “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 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 make 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 behavior makes an impact on the direction of the river, shaping and directing it’s course, like a surging current. Like that river, 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, good or bad. You can stop wondering why you never feel relaxed and happy. It’s science. Sorry.

No Prescription Needed

How do we change the pattern to happy thoughts, add 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 three things you’re grateful for.

  • Now take a few seconds, slowly breathe in and out and really feel the pleasure of each of them (No, this is not woo-woo hippy stuff, this is science. Honest.)

  • Tonight, before bed, write down one different thing you were grateful for today, again experiencing the emotional pleasure it brings, holding that for at least a few seconds.

  • Continue to keep a gratitude log for the rest of the month, three things every morning and one thing every night. It’ll take you five minutes a day. Super easy. You can do it.

You’ve just made the first step in training your brain to focus on the good things in your life. The act of focusing on the good in your day, training your brain to take in the pleasure of the event and holding that emotion, will do wonders for your daily happiness level.

Life can be challenging and stress is everywhere. The good news is you can use your mind to change the way your brain works. It just takes the right kind of action and thinking.

Kimberly Montgomery blogs at FiftyJewels.com, where she encourages people to use their powers for good. Hop on over there to grab some free tools to help you easily add more Gratitude into your life.

Earlier on Huff/Post50:

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Easy Ways To Cultivate Gratitude Starting Today

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