It is important to be thankful and have a spirit of gratitude more than once a year. This Thanksgiving, I want to encourage you to program your mind to ALWAYS have an “Attitude of Gratitude”.
The Power of Gratitude
I heard a statistic that America has only 8% of the worlds’ population, but is the leader by a large margin in the use of tranquilizers.
Tranquilizers are prescribed to people to reduce tension and anxiety. Instead of tranquilizers however, what if people simply developed a heart of gratitude? What impact would gratitude have on depression, tension, and anxiety?
It is a proven scientific fact that it is impossible to feel gratitude AND anxiety, sadness, tension, and depression at the same time. Our brains cannot process both emotions simultaneously.
When we express gratitude, a chemical called dopamine is released in our brains. Dopamine is a “feel good ” chemical that is related to pleasure. The more dopamine that is released, the more pleasure we feel. Therefore, the more gratitude we express, the happier we become.
Dopamine is extremely addictive. Expressing gratitude is a healthy way of releasing dopamine. However, our society has been using extremely negative practices to release dopamine in our brains; stimulants such as nicotine, cocaine, and methamphetamine also promote increased levels of dopamine. Dopamine is the main factor as to why those drugs are extremely addictive – people desperately want to feel pleasure, even if it requires destroying the body.
The good news is, just like how nicotine or cocaine releases dopamine, so does gratitude! The more gratitude you practice, the more “addicted” you will become. The more addicted you become, the happier you will be!
Make Gratitude A Daily Habit
In my Instagram account, I have expressed the importance of “paying yourself first”. Paying yourself first is a financial term that is used to express the importance of paying yourself the first 10% of your pay cheque into a savings account.
I have developed the notion of paying yourself first into different practice as well…that is, when you wake up, instead of showering and running off to work or school, pay yourself first by waking up early to do something that will energize and strengthen you for the day.
One of the best methods of paying yourself first is TO PRACTICE GRATITUDE. My favourite author, Jon Gordon recommends taking a “gratitude walk” every morning. Whatever you decide to do, I strongly encourage you to begin your day by simply speaking things you are grateful for.
Most people are thankful for the big things – job promotions, their new car, winning a prize, etc. But very few take the time to express gratitude for the small things as well. Be thankful you woke up alive and healthy! Be thankful you have a warm bed to sleep in. Be thankful you have a water heater so that you can have a warm shower!
So many times we focus on the negative and don’t realize just how fortunate we really are. When we begin to practice gratitude and focus on the positive, heavy amounts of dopamine will be released in our brains. We will feel happier and become healthier.
Gratitude In Action
I have witnessed, first hand, the power of expressing simple, daily gratitude.
Gratitude has been a major factor in changing the culture of many negative classrooms that I have encountered in my career. I have witnessed countless depressed, anxious, sad, and worried students change their entire mindset with the simple practice of speaking daily gratitude.
I have seen depression and sadness melt away. I have seen gratitude and joy take root and grow in the most harsh environments.
I challenge you to practice gratitude this week. Say THREE things every morning that you are thankful for. Remember, being thankful doesn’t mean winning the lottery or getting 100% on a test. Being thankful is being alive, enjoying the sunshine, and having a strong body and a sound mind.
Focus on the positive. Be thankful. It is not necessary to destroy your brains and body with drugs when you can activate dopamine in a healthy way! Be thankful! Practice gratitude!
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
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