Gratitude for days
You may have heard this before, but it bears repeating. Repeatedly. Noting gratitude for 21 days, 3 times a day can rewire your brain to produce more dopamine (happy hormone) and to notice more things it is grateful for, which will produce more dopamine…see the pattern here?
Your brain is constantly sifting through incoming pieces of information, i’m talking millions of pieces. To make this process easier the brain creates filters of what you deem important. How do you tell your brain what is important? Easy, by paying attention to details. Say you want to buy a new Jeep Wrangler, a 2 door blue one. As you drive around you will start to notice Jeeps, particularly blue ones. In fact you might even start to feel like there are jeeps everywhere now that you have started to look. As you add details to your dream Jeep (black wheels, roof rack and tow package in case you were wondering) they will appear in your field of attention because your brain has created a filter and will adjust it accordingly. This also works in keeping you safe. Live in an area where there are poisonous snakes? Your brain will create a filter that makes the markings and colors of this snake catch your attention. Or the make and model of your poisonous ex.
This is where we hijack the process with gratitude. There more you bring attention to what makes you smile, in the moment and then latter in a list, the more important you tell your brain these things are. Once you create the filter your brain will start to sort through the information and sending the important bits to your consciousness. Once you change the filters of what you want to see more of (the things you are grateful for) you will start to see more of them. The more you notice things that make you happy the better you feel, changing the way you interact with the world. Th more positive interactions you have with people the better you believe the world to be. There is no rule around what to be grateful for however it has been my experience that the little things create the biggest difference in filter making. Maybe because you need to slow down to notice them? Smell of good coffee, dappled sunlight, soft fabrics, new growth on my plants. The things you add to your list can be anything that sparks joy.
As an added bonus we can amplify the effects of this every time we share our daily list and every time we hear someone else list. This positive exchange strengthens interpersonal bonds and feelings of safety. Yes, really. It’s that easy.
Bonus points: Want to create a feeling of relaxation and decrease cortisol production? As you make note of the things you are grateful for use all senses possible. Say you are enjoying that first cup of coffee in the morning and it’s made just right. Inhale the notes of vanilla, gaze out the window as you feel the warmth of the cup in your hand, notice how the delicious taste blocks out the nagging thought/kids/significant other/stupid thing Trump said. Ahhhhhh feel your spine relax just a bit and your nervous system kick down a notch. The more detail you can notice during these moments of gratitude the bigger an impact they make in your memory so that next time you smell that coffee your brain is already prepping for a little relaxation.