Did you know that you have the power to transform your brain to be more optimistic, compassionate and to help improve your well-being?
- The more you look for ways to be grateful, the more you will empower these positive transformations. This can also extend to those you spend time with, creating a cycle of good feelings, flowing with upbeat energy.
- Neurological research has shown that when you have feelings of gratitude, these specific parts of your brain-the anterior cingulate cortex and medial prefrontal cortex, show increased activity. These areas are associated with reward, empathy, value, judgement, social cognition and morals. This reveals that feelings of gratitude provide a sense of stress relief and also strengthens your positive and supportive feelings for others.
There is no better time to practice this mindful, life-enriching habit than over the holidays, when you are surrounded by friends and loved ones…especially those that you may find yourself digging a little deeper to feel grateful for.
Focusing on what you are grateful for can even help you enjoy clearer emotional reactions, better sleep and metabolism. This is because it activates your hypothalamus (located at the base of your brain), which facilitates your body temperature, hunger, thirst, behaviors, and circadian rhythms. This part of your brain also releases hormones such as the pleasure hormone- dopamine, which is triggered by feelings of gratitude.
Gratitude supports an increased outlook on your life which can raise your sense of satisfaction. And it has been proven that people with high life satisfaction show greater neural connectivity among such emotion-regulated brain regions as the hypothalamus, even while processing negative situations.
As gratitude may be generally defined as the appreciation of what is valuable and meaningful to oneself, it is good to know that there is a very broad spectrum for the ways in which you recognize and experience gratitude.
Your life is a journey, lived moment by moment…and gratitude may be the tool that helps you keep what’s most essential to your life at the center of your focus. Practicing this can help ensure that your mornings, days and nights are built up by what matters most to you.
Some of the primary aspects of my life that I am mindful to be grateful for are my:
-usefulness to our society
-my patient’s healing
-the love of my family and friends
-my commitment to my ongoing personal healing
-regular adventures with my family
-my dedication to helping boost health globally
Techniques for Embracing this Life-Enhancing Tool
The goal of these techniques is to provide you an array of ways that empower and motivate you to the gratifying lifestyle choices that build your brain power, and simultaneously enhance your health, happiness, and well-being.
1. Evidence shows that the encouraging influence of gratitude on your mental health continues past a particular event if the emotion is relived. This is why it is good to keep a gratitude journal.
Ease into this technique by incorporating it into your morning or evening routine. You may even want to start by just making lists of the small day-to-day encounters that you are grateful for. Through practice, this time of reflection will help you develop a stronger awareness of your gratitude throughout each day.
Some Questions To Consider:
-What did not exist a year or several years ago that is a regular part of my daily life now?
-What do I have in my life right now that others (that I know or around the world) do not?
-What is the best part of my day?
2. Take a moment during each day to think about the positive things that have happened. Perhaps you do this for just one minute over your lunch break, when you’re folding laundry, or sitting in traffic. Know that even this small moment of gratitude amplifies your physical and mental well-being.
3. Savor your food and the moment. Rather than being distracted by your phone or the TV, allow you meal times to be enriched with focused gratitude for the flavors and textures of your food, for the company you are with and for the opportunity to make meals a routine ceremony of gratitude.
4. Meditation. Among its top benefits, meditation has been reported to strengthen the parts of your brain that maintain cognition and store memory. When you meditate or pray over the things you are grateful for, this reinforces gratitude’s positive effects physically and mentally.
5. Do small acts of kindness. Whether it’s bringing tea or coffee to your co-workers, offering to make a meal, complimenting someone on their project, or just telling someone you are grateful for them…this compassion perpetuates a cycle of grateful positivity.
As this is the ‘season of giving’, GRATITUDE can be the greatest gift you give to yourself and others.
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To Your Health,
Kiran Grewal MD
"My goal is to share my knowledge with the world. I believe in delivering valuable and ethical content that changes the lives of my patients." -Kiran Grewal MD