Did you know it takes 5-12 positive experiences to over-ride a negative experience?
Our survival instincts are naturally honed to remember what might harm us again in the future and so we remember what hurts as a priority.
The good news is that we can meddle with this process and rewire out brain to better retain and appreciate positive experiences and deflect negative experiences.
How do we do this?…Gratitude
Expressing appreciation and being grateful can reduce depression, lower blood pressure, reduce chronic pain, increase energy.
People who deliberately focus on grateful thoughts before bed sleep better.
Being grateful improves our self esteem, our empathy for others, it can even prolong our lives
It’s hard to “just snap out of it”, “cheer up” or “get over it”. If we are feeling consumed by very negative emotions it’s very hard to consciously shift eg from Fear or Misery to Joy.
However, it is very easy to focus on gratitude, and gratitude is pretty far up the spectrum of positive emotions.
Even a homeless person can be grateful it’s not raining or that his dog is by his side.
The practise of gratitude releases serotonin and dopamine, feel-good neurotransmitters which act much like anti-depressants.
Research shows that over time, a consistent gratitude practise enables us to re-wire our brains enable, to train our prefrontal cortex to better appreciate and retain the positive experiences and thoughts and deflect the negative ones.
Similar brain changes are detected in those who practise meditation or mindfulness.
Tips on how to be consciously grateful:
- Write a gratitude journal or use an App to record 3 things on the morning and 3 before bed
- Practise present moment awareness – rather than wishing for something in our future or past – focus on the positive of what we have right now
- Celebrate minor accomplishments
- Tell people in your life something you appreciate about them
- Tell yourself too
NB: Authentic praise: for loved ones make it really count – with clients I say it should make you feel a bit vulnerable to sat it – eg rather than thanks for doing xyz child task say thanks for doing xyz task I love how we share the chores with the kids and because of that they look to both of us when they need support – you are a brilliant dad and I really appreciate it – thanks
- Reconnect with nature or art – notice the beauty in the world
- Think bigger than yourself – volunteer or join a cause – helping those less fortunate than ourselves creates gratitude for what we have and empathy for others
- Do random acts of kindness – hold open a door, smile more
- Replace complaints with gratitude – When you find yourself focusing on what you believe you’re lacking—I wish my car were nicer, my house were bigger, I had more money—replace it with thoughts of what you are thankful for.
- Make Gratitude a habit – all day everyday as often as you can
You’ll be very grateful you did
…and if you need any help, just give me a call – I’m here to support you and doing both online and face to face sessions in Chiswick, Acton and Windsor
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