Being grateful is a daily practice of mine. Formally in the morning and before bed each day, recounting and expressing gratitude for the many blessings throughout my day and in my life. And informally throughout the day as I'm aware of all of the things in my life that I am grateful for. This practice has significantly changed and enhanced my life. Gratitude changes the lens upon which we see everything in the world.
Gratitude has also changed the way that I pray. I start off all of my prayers with expressions of gratitude and thanks. I believe that gratitude is the key to leading a life of happiness, and also the doorway to the Divine. Starting out praying with expressions of gratitude acknowledges the many blessings we already have in our lives. You leave something in return when you pray with gratitude. I believe that my relationship to God, with the Divine, begins with a grateful heart, with gratitude.
I have spent a lot of time studying and researching positive psychology and happiness and the one thing that consistently comes up over and over again is the power of gratitude in leading a positive, happy, joyful life.
Our brains are programmed for a negatively bias. We are 3-5 times more sensitive to negative information. Our brains are trained to scan the world for the negative, for the threats, so that it can help us to survive. Our brain is like velcro for negativity and teflon for positivity.
Negative emotions put us into fight or flight mode and narrow our ability to think. Positive emotions broaden and build our brain's ability to think and see. Positive emotions flood the brain with dopamine and serotonin. Chemicals that not only make us feel good, but that dial up the learning centers of our brains. This helps us to organize new information, to keep the information longer and retrieve it faster.
There are many scientifically documented advantages to having a positive brain versus a negative brain. So how does this all relate to giving thanks? Gratitude is a system to offset the negativity. It amplifies the goodness. Gratitude is the gateway to happiness, the gateway to the advantages of having a positive mindset. The practice of gratitude invites joy into our lives, not the other way around.
When life is going well gratitude allows us to celebrate the success. When life feels like it is going poorly and we are challenged, gratitude gives us perspective. It is a beautiful perspective shift. Gratitude is an engine for holistic change. When you are grateful for what you have, you make energetic space for more abundance to flow into your life. When feeling grateful you feel more open, generous, connected, aware and alive. Gratitude helps you fall in love with the life you already have.
This week, in honor of Thanksgiving, I invite you to go deeper with your gratitude practice. Each day journal at least 3 new things that you are grateful for, be as specific as you can. Or, take a few minutes each day to write a thank you note to someone, thanking or praising them for something they have done to make your life lighter and brighter. Let's turn up the volume on gratitude and ramp up the vibration this week!