In November we look forward to Thanksgiving, a time of shared fun, feasting and friendship. And while you are busy giving thanks to and for others and for the good in life, you are also enhancing your own health and wellbeing!
In fact, gratitude has been shown to boost the neurotransmitter serotonin which activates the brain stem to produce dopamine, the chemical that makes your brain blissful. The more we think grateful thoughts, the happier and healthier we feel. With daily practice, this positive, gratitude thinking can turn pessimism to optimism thanks to the neuroplasticity of your beautiful brain!
So other than keeping a gratitude journal and thinking positive thoughts, how can you practice gratitude? Here’s a list of 5 ways to get you and keep you going:
- Anchor gratitude in visual objects. Has someone given you something that you treasure? Do you have something that represents a shared moment of happiness? It could be as simple as a seashell or as big as an elaborate piece of art. Whatever it is, when you glance at it, take a moment to be grateful for and remember the joy of that time.
- Deliberately set out to thank someone. When you wake up in the morning, ask yourself, “Who am I going to acknowledge today with thanks”? It could be someone who needs a pick-me-up or an associate who has helped you out. Write a quick note, give them a flower, leave a sparkly red heart on their desk or door in gratitude and know both your hearts will be lifted.
- Share with a friend what you are thankful for, either about them or just in general. Doesn’t have to be big, just heartfelt. Try it and feel your brain bliss grow.
- Create random acts of thankfulness. Sure you give a perfunctory “thanks” to the clerk who checks you out at the store, but what if it was a thoughtful comment instead of an empty habit? Try adding a little bit extra, “Thanks, with your help I’m going to get to eat some delicious food now”! Or, “Thanks for helping me with such a pleasant smile”. It will make your day, and theirs go just a little bit better!
- Everything counts. Don’t like to jump out of bed in the morning and need a little help waking up? Be thankful for your comfortable bed, the cup of coffee that will start your day, the blessings you have right there, right now. Pretty soon you’ll be adding gratitude for the adventure awaiting you that day!
The bottom line is that gratitude increases positive thoughts, for you and all those around you. Those positive thoughts create neural pathways in our brains that create happier, healthier lives and make reaching our goals and dreams so much easier.
This Thanksgiving, I am grateful for you and all that you have contributed to my life, helping me reach my goal and dreams.
From my heart, thank you all,