For so many of us, last year was a tough year, and it was really easy to dwell on the negativity of events in the world or even in our own lives. It’s generally easier to focus on the things we don’t have and what isn’t going well than on the things we do have and what is going well.
Our brains have two different systems for reacting to positive and negative experiences. When we experience a negative event, our brain stores it in our long-term memory quickly; however, our brain requires more time (more than 12 seconds) to store a positive experience in our long-term memory.
This has a significant impact on our health, happiness and satisfaction in life. The good news is you can train your brain to focus on the positive experiences in life.
The secret: gratitude.
Studies have shown that gratitude has positive effects on emotional and relation well-being. But the case for gratitude doesn’t end there. According to The HeartMath Institute, being grateful has physical benefits, too. In this study, researchers found “the heart’s electromagnetic field contains certain information or coding, which researchers are trying to understand, that is transmitted throughout and outside of the body. One of the most significant findings of HMI’s research related to this field is that intentionally generated positive emotions can change this information/coding” (The HeartMath Institute, 2010).
We can literally change how our heart functions with gratitude! Is your mind blown yet?
We have so much control over our thoughts and we can train our brains (and our hearts) to default to be more positive and grateful in our everyday lives. Of course, the daily stresses of life still happen, but we can be more aware of how we react and respond to those situations.
And practicing gratitude is easier said than done, so we’ve come up with a list of 10 awesome and easy ways to practice gratitude every day.
Keep a gratitude journal.
Set aside just five minutes to write down three things that you are grateful for. This could be something as small as a good cup of coffee or as big as a promotion.
Make a statement.
Writing down your goals makes you more likely accomplish them. Write down a vow or commitment of gratitude. Keep it in a place where you will see it every day to keep yourself accountable to your commitment.
We couldn’t resist throwing a little Kendrick in here. However, there is a link between humility, gratitude and wellbeing. Being compassionate and caring goes a long way and elevates our own experience of health and happiness.
This one can be tricky to do. Luckily, there are many resources like Headspace that teach you how to be present and mindful in everyday life.
Use positive words.
Our thoughts determine our words, and our words determine our actions. So speak kindly to yourself, your friends, family, co-workers, the Starbucks barista. And do away with words that speak stress in not only your life, but the lives of those around you.
Whether you help a friend move or volunteer at the Drop-In and Rehab Center, taking time to give back will help you feel happier.
Remind yourself of what you have.
Taking an inventory of what you have rather than what you lack will help you become more content in everyday life and more appreciative of the beauty in your life right now.
Note the bad. And then move on. It is important to understand the negative experiences in life, taking time to note them, and use them as launch pads for gratitude. Those experiences can make the good ones even that much sweeter.
Surround yourself with amazing humans.
Gratitude is infectious. When you surround yourself with happy, positive people, you become a happy, positive person.
Take care of your body. Eat healthy. Exercise. (Maybe join us for spin class.) This is the only body you have. Take care of it. And be grateful for it. It’s strong, capable and beautiful.
So, let’s declare that 2018 is “The Year of Gratitude”. Let’s come together as one community, one squad, to inspire and encourage gratefulness in each one of us as we crush 2018. Who’s with us?
Williams, R. (2014). Psychology Today. “Are We Hardwired to be Positive or Negative?” https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/wired-success/201406/are-we-hardwired-be-positive-or-negative
Emmons, R. A., & McCullough, M. E. (2003). Counting blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84(2), 377-389. http://psycnet.apa.org/record/2003-01140-012
The HeartMath Institute. (2010). “The Energetic Heart is Unfolding” https://www.heartmath.org/articles-of-the-heart/science-of-the-heart/the-energetic-heart-is-unfolding/
Jordan Paul LaBouff, Wade C. Rowatt, Megan K. Johnson, Jo-Ann Tsang & Grace McCullough Willerton The Journal of Positive Psychology Vol. 7 , Iss. 1 ,2012 http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/17439760.2011.626787