The mental practice of gratitude is a transformative tool that rewires our brain. It's fantastic! So, why don't we do it more often?
While the benefits of adopting an attitude of gratitude are substantial, it takes practice to shift to that mindset. We live in a world full of negativity, bias, and tragedy, and it can be challenging to see silver linings when things go awry.
It's difficult to maintain a consistently positive outlook when our ancient brains naturally pay more attention to difficulties. We might experience a boatload of success, yet find ourselves fixating on the single disappointment we encounter during the day.
Our tendency to focus on negative experiences stems from evolutionary psychology. Throughout human history, being alert to potential threats and dangers was crucial for survival. Ancestors who were more vigilant to negative stimuli were better equipped to avoid harm and pass on their genes. This built-in negativity bias ensured our species' survival. It's also the reason why some people react instantly and intensely to snakes, spiders, and other creatures.
Despite not facing the same life-threatening dangers our ancestors did, this bias still persists in modern times. The brain's sensitivity to negative information helps us remain aware of potential problems, enabling us to respond to challenges and protect ourselves.
Furthermore, negative experiences often leave a more lasting impact on our emotions and memory compared to positive ones. This phenomenon, known as the negativity bias, means we tend to give more weight and attention to negative events, perhaps as a way to learn from and avoid similar situations in the future.
While this bias was advantageous for survival, it can hinder us in contemporary life. Acknowledging and appreciating positive experiences, such as practicing gratitude, can help counterbalance the negativity bias. However, shifting our focus from negative to positive aspects of our lives may require conscious effort.
Despite the brain's natural inclination to focus on the negative, practicing gratitude enables individuals to train their minds to notice and appreciate the positive aspects of life. This can also transform your aversion to risk, potentially influencing your professional or financial decisions.
So, let me throw you a turkey bone challenge!
I'm offering you a week of gratitude quotes with a single thought prompt each day. Take five minutes daily to jot down your thoughts, allowing yourself to ponder and practice gratitude mentally.
Think of it as your mental Turkey Trot. If you're busy now, come back to it next week and keep at it. No excuse has ever led anyone to where they wanted to be. If you desire a happier outlook, this scientifically proven method is entirely free.
A week of gratitude prompts:
“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them.” - John F. Kennedy
Describe, based on your own experiences, how you or others live by gratitude.
“Gratitude is a currency that we can mint for ourselves, and spend without fear of bankruptcy.” - Fred De Witt Van Amburgh
If you had no fear of anything to lose by showing gratitude, what would you do?
“Things turn out best for people who make the best of the way things turn out.” - John Wooden
Share a time when things didn't go as planned, but you made the best of it anyway.
"Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude." - A.A. Milne
Describe a situation where you observed a child showing great gratitude. Recall as much detail as possible and its impact on you.
"This is a wonderful day. I've never seen this one before." - Maya Angelou
How do you keep gratitude fresh in your life?
“The roots of all goodness lie in the soil of appreciation for goodness.” - Dalai Lama
What do you think the Dalai Lama meant by this? Craft a story that a child might enjoy about this quote.
“Gratitude doesn’t change the scenery. It merely washes clean the glass you look through, so you can clearly see the colors.” - Richelle E. Goodrich
How does perspective influence your view of the world?
Written by FitPros Speaker, Neeli Clute
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