What’s Wrong with a Little Bit of “Thank You”?
Gratitude is a new age buzz word and it is not without good reason. We all have a tendency to take things for granted after awhile, our health, our possessions, our loved ones, just about anything we experience regularly. Gratitude can snap us out of that oblivious trance and help remind us of all that is good in our world.
Go on try it for a minute. Stop everything and just think about something you are happy about. A sunny day? A smile? Your loves? Your six-pack? A task you accomplished? A giant ice cream cone? Try it, even for a few seconds………….I told you….it makes you feel better….and for those who didn’t try it, keep reading.
Interrupt the Negative Flow
Scientists believe, in the course of our day, we think fifteen to fifty thousand thoughts, depending on how thoughtful you are. Many meanderings are just repetitive negative thought loops. In sixteen waking hours, that’s anywhere from fifteen to fifty thoughts per minute. Many are the same thoughts we thought the day before. I’m getting dizzy just thinking about that. Oops, there goes another thought.
To put a little icing on the cake, the average person may have up to 80% negative thought loops. But let’s say you’re Miss Rose-Colored Glasses and you only had half as many negative thoughts as the average person, you’d still be having eight to twenty-five negative thoughts per minute. Now don’t worry. That would be another negative thought.
There is hope. Take Gratitude Breaks! They interrupt the negative flow. When you take time to ‘count your blessings’ on a regular basis, over time, you can change your thought patterns. And this simple and effective practice can actually reshape your brain to be more positive. Sound crazy?
Bruce Lipton, in his book, “The Biology of Belief” suggests that genes do not control our behavior as was formerly believed. In fact, it is our perceptions and beliefs that have tremendous influence over our cells. Good or bad, happy or sad, our thoughts can actually alter our genetic code. Our thoughts can alter our brain function as well. Now if you’re five foot five, you cannot think your way to six foot six, but you can be a much happier five foot five.
Our thoughts can trigger our systems to actually help produce serotonin and dopamine, and that is what many anti-depressants do.
Gratitude can even enhance our health, boost our immune system, release natural endorphins that help reduce stress and help us to relax and sleep better. I think we’ve all had experiences when we got all stressed out for a period of time and the next thing you knew, you’d caught some bug. Hey, stress is ….very stressful. It has almost crippled me at times, made me want to curl up into the fetal position in a dark space. ….then on comes the depression with its haunting hopelessness. Talk about a party pooper.
When we regularly practice the “gratitude habit”, our brain begins to look for things to be grateful about. It’s working for me.
My mother-in-law used to wake up and say, “oh isn’t it a beautiful day, the birds are singing. The sky is blue.” That soppy blather used to drive me to nausea. I came from a much more cynical, glass half empty Jewish-European background. You didn’t talk about a beautiful day or birds singing. That was a jinx. Such a statement would surely initiate cosmic forces that would bring torrential devastation and dead birds falling from a darkened sky. My grandmother, a lovely woman who made quite an impression on me, could make a similar observation about a beautiful day and respond with “Listen, at least it’s not raining yet.” That was safe, sort of……
So when growing up, for me, gratitude was a trap that would surely set me up for disappointment. But let me tell you, if I knew then what I know now…..never mind.
We are What We Focus On
One more important thing I am learning is that when we focus on the negative, we bring negative vibes towards us. It’s got to do with the Law of Attraction. Think about it. A simple example would be. Smiling. When you smile, more people will smile at you. Not all, but more. And if you are a grumpy pants more people will be a grumpy pants to you. Then you’ll become even grumpier.
Somehow the same universal energy works with gratitude. The more you ‘count your blessings’, that’s gratitude in action. You begin to notice more good things around you. It becomes a bit of a habit. And gradually you feel better about the world around you. You smile more. More smiles come your way. The world appears more friendly and we all live happily ever after, sort of like in a fairy tale. Okay maybe the frog doesn’t turn into a prince, but the frog is a really nice frog, right?
Start a gratefulness journal. Each morning or evening or whenever, list a few things. Big things or little things. Climbing a mountain or sniffing a rose. Meeting your love or petting your dog. Enjoying your health or having a cup of tea. If an experience was nice for you, be grateful for it. ……. Stuck in traffic, waiting at the checkout counter, on hold with customer service…… think about what you love….. it will make you feel better and overtime, it will change your chemistry for the better.
And if you really need a boost, buy some of my wall art.
Now go on. Be grateful.