Admit it or not, we have become a society of protesters and moaners. With all the adverse press, hate crimes and general lack of thankfulness, our brains seemed to be wired for the negative. But what if we could rewire our brains; shift ourselves from a complaint-based life to one of appreciation? Studies have shown that the brain can rewire itself based on what we pay attention to and how we exercise our brain. Imagine what would happen if we cultivated a daily practice of thankfulness and gratitude?
It’s so easy to be thankful when things are going well in our lives; the sun is always shining, there’s a skip in our step. It’s much harder to find that silver lining when tragedy hits or we encounter setbacks. While we have no control over our feelings, we can control how we allow those feelings to govern us. Part of regulating those feelings is understanding them. When we start to examine life outside of the boundaries of our suffering, we can see that the world comes together to help us. As an example, many years ago my van broke down on my way home from grocery shopping. Two of my children, toddlers at the time, were with me and I was panicked and worried. During that time, all I focused on was what was happening in that moment. That’s where we get stuck, focusing on the here and now. Looking back, I realized things weren’t as bad as I thought. I was safe, my kids were safe and I had people available to help me out. This paradigm of self-reflection and cultivating gratitude are an important relationship. Much like going to the gym and exercising our muscles, repeatedly ‘flexing’ our gratefulness will help develop it and over time, we will have a different perspective on how things went in our daily lives.
Gregg Krech of the ToDo Institute and former guest on TheHealthHub, laid out some questions to help with daily self-reflection; he reflected daily on these question while studying in Japan:
- What did I receive?
- What did I give?
- What difficulties and troubles did I cause others?
It’s that last question that I reflect upon most. Once we start looking at our treatment of others and acknowledging our shortfalls, we can then start to change. Can you imagine this world if everyone did this?!
My challenge to you: every night, take 20-25 minutes to review your day and ask those questions. No one needs to know your answers or even what you did that day. This is only for you, so be honest. Not only will you see your daily perspective change because you are conscious of having to truthfully answer those questions at the end of the day, but you may also be surprised at what you find out about yourself.
Kelly Northey, Contributor to TheHealthHub
“Bringing Gratitude in to Our Lives”
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