To some, this will be cringe-worthy…
And I understand that. In many ways, it’s a little cringe-worthy to me, too, but I’m going to discuss it anyway.
The subject; practicing gratitude.
Fortunately, this is Thanksgiving week, which provides some small measure of cover for me so that I don’t look entirely like a New Age, metaphysical freak show.
Truth be told, I really believe in this concept…
And I believe in it because it works.
Here’s the upshot:
Gratitude practice is the process of consistently journaling about the things in life that make you grateful. By acknowledging gratitude for things on a regular basis it’s possible to make a significant impact on mental health, happiness and well-being.
According to Harvard researcher, Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage:
“Something as simple as writing down three things you’re grateful for every day for 21 days in a row significantly increases your level of optimism, and it holds for the next six months. The research is amazing,” he reports. Other studies show gratitude increases willpower, helps keep you calm, and can even boost employee morale.
So, where’s the science behind this?
Well, brain scans prove that there is a tangible result from regular gratitude practice:
“The participants who’d completed the gratitude task months earlier not only reported feeling more gratefulness two weeks after the task than members of the control group, but also, months later, showed more gratitude-related brain activity in the scanner. The researchers described these ‘profound’ and ‘long-lasting’ neural effects as ‘particularly noteworthy,'” psychology writer Christian Jarrett explains on the Science of Us blog.
So, guess what? This isn’t just some ethereal, hippie concept. There’s real world science behind it.
Plus, complaining can kill you!
Yes, the opposite of gratitude (complaining) has negative neurological and emotional effects on you.
So let’s boil that down–having a thought makes it easier for you to have that thought again. That’s not good news for the perpetually gloomy (though happily, it seems gratitude, can work the opposite way, building up your positivity muscles). It gets worse, too. Not only do repeated negative thoughts make it easier to think yet more negative thoughts, they also make it more likely that negative thoughts will occur to you just randomly walking down the street. (Another way to put this is that being consistently negative starts to push your personality towards the negative).
And, this negativity also creates stress, which can kill you.
Bottom line: Gratitude is good for you, complaining is bad for you, and the science is there to prove it!
So, how do I do this “gratitude” thing?
Keep a journal of things for which you are grateful. They can be big things (my job, my house, my wife) or small things (a rainy day, a good cup of coffee, a great book). You can do it daily, three times a week, once a week, the key is to do it consistently. Keep it simple; just enter three things each time you do it.
My input; only enter things that you feel a genuine emotion around, otherwise it feels rote.
And that’s that. Find your own way, there’s no perfect formula here outside of consistency.
And, in the spirit of Thanksgiving…
I want to thank all of you for supporting Arena Fitness over the years. Your friendship and loyalty are priceless to us. We are profoundly grateful to all of you and truly wish you a wonderful and happy Thanksgiving and holiday season.
Think healthy, be healthy. Think negatively, live negatively.
See you next week!
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