The Importance of Gratitude
Bombarded by the constant negative stories in the press these days, it can be easy to be in a stressed state of mind. When we have too much stress in our brain and body, our brain gets rigid and we lose flexibility and creativity. We also have a tendency to stay focused on the negatives around us and completely miss out on the joy of what’s good in life. Unfortunately, negative influences have a stronger impact on us than positive because they trigger our natural stress response, designed to protect us from threats in our environment. This is important for times when we need to be able to respond quickly and intuitively such as a fire blazing through our home or a truck veering towards us on the road. But in our day-to-day stress-filled lives, we can get caught in this survival mindset, which breaks us down physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.
That’s one reason why practicing gratitude is so important, and is one of my top SHARP strategies for keeping your brain healthy and functioning at its best. The more often we remind ourselves of what’s good in life, the more we shape the lens through which we look at the world to be more optimistic. See more positive, and more positive will come to you (or you’ll just be aware of more of them). Focus on the negative, and that’s what you’ll get.
There are simple ways to practice gratitude, and these have actually been studied by positive psychologists and shown to have a significant impact on our health, happiness and performance.
- Write down three things you’re grateful for each morning to start your day
- Discuss three things you feel blessed by at the end of the day with a friend or family member
- Write a note of thanks to someone who has positively impacted your life
- Keep a blessings journal with a list of things you feel grateful for
- Let people around you know that you appreciate them regularly