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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Tips on Tuesday: Attitude of Gratitude

I am partway through a show I saw on PBS done by Dr. Daniel Amen. He has a lot of amazing information on how to improve your life by improving your brain. (The show--and book--are called "Change Your Brain, Change Your Life".) While there is way too much information to share, I immediately gleaned one golden nugget out of his talk.

He was sharing ways to improve your brain and he has one of the points was regarding Positive Thinking--especially Gratitude. He said, "When you focus on what you love about your life, your brain works better." He explained that when you're focused on these parts of your life that you love, you're more coordinated because the parts of your brain are in a better balance of calm and awareness.

He went on to give an incredibly simple exercise to do at home. Every day, write down five things you are grateful for today. That's it. He even said that this exercise has been proven to decrease depression in people suffering from clinical depression. Now that statement really caught my attention! I'm not suffering from depression, but I know countless people who are. And to help ease depression, you just write down five things you're grateful for today?!?!?

Just writing it down (remember the importance of writing it down in goal setting?) on a daily basis helps your mind focus on the positive instead of the negative. When you turn your focus towards gratitude, you feel so much better about yourself, your life and situations you come across. It doesn't have to be big or giant things, just the things you are truly grateful for--the things from your heart.

Let me give you a few samples of how this Attitude of Gratitude has evolved for me over the past week.

I started with lists like: 1. Jesus, 2. Sean, 3. Kids, 4. Family, 5. Friends.

While it's a nice list, it felt sterile--even to me. I was writing what I thought I should write. Some days, that's truly what I'm grateful for, but I've been working on tapping my own heart a little better.

Now my lists look more like this:
1. I'm grateful today that Andrew still likes to give me a hug and a kiss...when nobody else is looking.
2. I'm grateful today that Nathan has moved past his germ-o-phobia to the point where I can kiss him and he will not wipe it off--and he allows me to kiss him on the lips.
3. I'm grateful today that Rebekah heard the door open after I went to the store and came running from the far reaches of the house to give me a hug and a kiss.
4. I'm grateful that Sean helped me put away groceries and dishes without being asked--so I could put my feet up for a few minutes.
5. I'm grateful today for my neighbors who have children to play with and that the kids usually play well together.

I also am finding it hard to stop at five things. Sometimes, I let my list keep going. And you know what--it does make a difference in my outlook and attitude.

Take a moment each day to make a Gratitude List and see how it might change your life, too!

1 comment:

Shalet said...

Perfect. Thanks for the reminder!

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