"Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude."
A.A. Malcolm Milne
Recently, I’ve been learning about neuroplasticity and how we, humans, are the only species on earth that have the ability to change our brains. How amazing is that! Dr. Daniel J. Siegal wrote, “Where attention goes, neural firing flows, and neural connection grows.” In other words, thought patterns that we originally thought were fixed actually can be changed with mental effort. So, if I focus on negative things all day (which I sometimes do), the neural wiring in my brain is going to become more negative and with each day that goes by, I'll lean more and more towards negative thinking. However, if I focus on the positive, especially when it’s difficult, positive neural connections will begin to grow and each day will become a tiny bit easier to think more positively.
Needless to say, gratitude plays a big part in changing our brains for the better. And some experts believe it takes 21 days to change a behavior. So, I’m proposing that for the next 21-days we take 1-2 minutes a day to focus on something we’re grateful for. (If you can focus longer, that’s even better). By practicing gratitude, we not only change our lives for the better, but there is scientific evidence that we can positively affect our kids’ brains. When they see us positively handling stress, we model good habits for them, and we create an environment that activates genes in their brains to make them more resilient to the hardships in life. So without becoming too “preachy”, this month of "Giving Thanks," I want to consciously work on rewiring my brain to improve my life and those around me. Will you join me?
Not sure where to start? Here's a list of Gratitude ideas to get you started:
(spend at least 1-2 minutes each day focusing on something you’re grateful for.)
- Say thank you to someone
- Think about a Family member you love
- Your Ears – what sounds can you hear?
- Your home – what do you see?
- Where you live – what activities does your family enjoy?
- We GET to fold wash!
- The convenience of electricity
- The start of a new day
- Walk outside. Notice what you see, hear, smell, & feel.
- Think of at least one Friend you care about
- The food you eat today
- What experience are you most grateful for?
- A hobby that you enjoy
- Your favorite song (why not listen to it today?)
- A special place
- Something that money can’t buy
- Something that makes you laugh – watch a funny animal video
- A simple pleasure (coffee, tea, petting your dog/cat)
- Eyes to see – look out a window. What do you see?
- Technology to keep us connected
- Think of someone who has been kind to you
What are you grateful for today?
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