Gratitude is powerful mojo.
Make it a habit, and it can literally can change your brain.
Neuroscientist Rick Hanson, PhD, says that your mind will gradually take its shape from what it routinely rests on. So, if you regularly rest your mind on resentments, anxieties, and fears, then your brain marinates in a stress soup that changes its structure.
Always Looking For Danger
Parts of your brain like the amygdala (that always alert watchdog that constantly scans the environment for danger) create neural paths that take the shape of vigilance, hyper-reactivity, and a hard time calming down. Your neurons end up with poorer myelination which means they have less of the protective coating that helps signals travel more efficiently.(1)
So feed your mind a constant stream of negativity over and over, and you change your brain for the worse.
But the good news is that if you purposely rest your attention on “ordinary, authentic, realistic, healthy experiences of gratitude(1),” your brain changes shape towards the better.
On the Lookout For Opportunity
So, think about that…if you change your attention towards true gratitude (not fake affirmations or something you don’t believe…just ordinary, authentic, realistic gratitude), over time you can:
- rewire the “watchdog” away from hyper-vigilant and volatile;
- strengthen parts of the brain that help you feel centered in the face of adversity; and
- start operating less from “avoid threats at all costs” survival mode and more from “what kind of opportunities are out there for me” growth mode.
That’s some powerful mojo indeed.
The Gratitude Challenge
So here’s the assignment: for the next 40 days, look for something to be grateful for, and document it in social media each day (bonus points for photographs). The catch is that you have to truly feel "ordinary, authentic, realistic gratitude" over what you post.
That's it. So simple.
You will find yourself looking for things to be grateful for in anticipation of posting; you will broaden your awareness of what is gratitude-worthy. And you will find your mind resting on what is good more often.
Let's see just how powerful you can be.
You've got this...
(1)Hansen, R. PhD (2016). Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Lasting Inner Strength and Peace. From The Neuroscience Training Summit (Sounds True).