- Verbal gratification is satisfying. Yet, when you write down something, you are engaging your mind and body in way that it will be stored in your long-term memory.
Often as children (or even adults!) we keep hearing, “Be thankful for your food!” “Be thankful you have this!” Well, I would be thankful at times but must confess, that many a times, I would roll my eyes as well. I wondered why I had to do so repeatedly. How would being thankful make me happy? How could I be more content only by saying ‘thank you’ and being grateful as often as possible? Not sure if anyone could explain the Why?! But it was evident that it makes you feel good, is calming, relieves worry and, is even beneficial for your wellbeing, so why not?!
It was not until I started practicing mindfulness that I understood the importance of gratitude. I slowly incorporated it into my daily life and experienced the benefits. It is indeed a subtle but powerful tool that helped me face tangible and intangible challenges that were not in my control by focusing on what I had in life and not what I was lacking.
Do you know that research shows that most of us spend our time focusing on the negatives, the threats and the downside of our lives and up to 80% of our thoughts can be unpleasant! Now that can sabotage our health and happiness.
On the other hand, studies have shown measurable effects of gratitude on multiple body and brain systems, which include the release of mood neurotransmitters (serotonin, norepinephrine), reproductive hormones (testosterone), social bonding hormones (oxytocin), cognitive and pleasure related neurotransmitters (dopamine).
Dopamine or as it is sometimes called the ‘happy hormone’ or ‘feel good’ hormone is found in many anti-depressant medications. Every time you feel grateful or thankful and wholly fill your body with that feeling of appreciation; your brain releases the happy hormones like Dopamine and Serotonin making you feel lighter, happier, and calmer. But this must be a conscious effort as we cannot feel the rewards of our lives until we give them our attention. So, imagine, if you felt grateful 12 times a day, how happy would your day be?
Now, this awareness of the positive aspects and things in our lives is the key to counteract the pattern of negative or pleasant thoughts. This is not a substitute for any medication or therapy but surely enhances calmness, wellbeing, and self-empowerment.
So why not make it a practice? Not only will you spread those positive vibrations to those around you, but your health will also benefit. A simple feeling of gratitude for just being, a restful sleep, or a warm bed, at the beginning of the day can be a better start than the overwhelming feeling of the endless chores to be done.
The practice of writing a Gratitude Journal has benefited many of my clients realize that they have a lot to be thankful for and doing this right before going to bed gives a feeling of content and a more restful sleep. Just reflecting on the events and experiences of the day and showing gratitude towards the little things in life, creates more awareness about living in the present moment and decreases the intensity of anxiety over time.
Verbal gratification is satisfying. Yet, when you write down something, you are engaging your mind and body in that act and that sends a message to your brain that it needs to be stored in your long-term memory. So, grab a journal and start with three things you are grateful for each night and you will be surprised how the list gets longer!
Monica Kamran is an Intuitive Energy Healer, Corporate Wellness and Stress Management and Mindfulness/Meditation coach. She is the founder of Inner Sanctuary Wellness, based in San Ramon, California, which offers opportunities to learn tools to attain deeper consciousness of the self and one’s surroundings and the ability to use those skills and modalities to lead a fulfilling life, being mindful of the present.