Doing daily gratitudes every day used to seem a bit silly to me until I actually tried it. In 2017, I hit a rough patch. There wasn’t anything specific going wrong in my life, it was more a feeling of being lost with no rudder to guide me.
Often feeling anxious, I was uninspired and my career and my life didn’t seem as exciting/fulfilling/successful as everyone’s on social media. I started to focus heavily on these negative feelings that made them multiply like a fungus trying to take over my life.
I sought ways to calm my monkey mind and one of the things that popped up time and again in my research was daily gratitudes; the daily act of being thankful for little things and writing it down. In the past, I had seen people do #gratitude projects on social media and I judged it quickly as “not for me,” but as an experiment, I quietly began to write down three things for which I was grateful every morning.
Happily, I discovered it is for me after all. In fact, combining writing daily gratitudes with journaling and exercise, something shifted in my brain and things became rosier.
The fungus gave way to a lush garden of contentment as the positive vibes overtook the negative ones.
Daily gratitudes were changing my brain.
Lisa Burling, is the author of Dream A Little Dream, the director of a busy public relations company and is a mum of two young boys.
Life has thrown her a good handful of curveballs in recent years, and she found that her emotional garden was getting a little cramped with bad vibes. She observed a few people in her inner circle for reaping the benefits of being thankful for what they have rather than lamenting what they don’t.
“I’m surrounded by a few people who write daily gratitudes and I noticed how it was positively impacting their lives. I started very simply for myself – I bought a gratitude diary and wrote three things I was grateful for each day before I went to bed. This quick moment of reflection on life’s gifts – often the small, inconsequential things – meant I went to bed with a grateful heart,” tells Lisa.
“I started during one of the lowest points in my life and it definitely expedited my positive attitude returning, plus made me see life wasn’t really that bad after all. In fact, it was very good!”
Lisa now feels she looks at life through a different lens, as though the act of practising gratitude has given her a “glass half full” view of the world. Lisa’s gratitude has helped her to feel happier and more content. Happiness is often not something that we simply have it is much like a muscle or a skill, believes Dr Tim Sharp, aka, Dr Happy.
“Most of us understand that achieving ‘success’ and ‘competence’ in any area usually requires time and practice and effort (in the gym or in the studio or in the kitchen). So why would happiness be any different?” Dr Happy writes.
“What if you were to think of happiness in the same way – as a skill that requires practice and diligence and ‘working out’? Because in my humble opinion, that’s the best way to think about it!
“There’s no doubt that just as in those other areas already mentioned, ‘natural ability’ will play some role; but there’s also no doubt that with effort and devotion happiness can be created and enhanced.”
The benefit of using gratitudes daily to help achieve greater happiness is not simply a temporary emotional shift but can be a long-term change in the way your brain performs.
“Studies have shown even by just thinking the question ‘what am I grateful for?’ it affects the neural pathways in our brain. By practising daily gratitudes we impact those parts of the brain that release our ‘happy juices’- dopamine and serotonin, and we actually build stronger connections between pathways in our brain that help us to feel happier, to learn better and to regulate our eating, sleeping, and other bodily functions,” tells psychologist Dr. Sasha Lynn.
Gratitude is a very simple and accessible form of positive psychology, by flipping our focus from the negative side of the coin to the positive and grabbing the best of our lives by the horns. Not only can you enhance happiness and contentment, but also your resilience.
“Positive psychology is all about looking at what works and enhancing our strengths, helping us to flourish. We acknowledge that sometimes not so great stuff happens, but we can bounce back better, and lead more fulfilling lives if we can focus on what helps us lead the best life we can for us, and to also share that meaning and fulfilment with others!” Dr Lynn says.
Everyone experiences the not-so-sunny bits of life, but they won’t seem so bad if you’re focusing on the rainbows.
Stop feeling like you’re spinning your wheels, wasting your time, and not getting the results you want in life now.
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