The practice of gratitude can rewire your brain and enhance wellness.
Do you want to feel better physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually? Then give thanks in the morning.
When you give thanks for a great day as soon as you wake, your subconscious mind primes you to actually have a great day. When you thank your body for healing from disease or injury while sick, your mind/body connection assumes it’s true and works to make it so. When you express gratitude for successfully achieving a goal you’re aiming toward, all parts of you work together to accomplish the goal.
Giving thanks for a great day doesn’t mean there won’t be potholes throughout your day, but it does mean you can more easily and joyfully navigate around them.
What makes gratitude so powerful?
Think about this: When do you say, “thank you?” After you receive something, correct? You are already hardwired to believe you’ve received the gift that’s inspired your gratitude. When you say, “thank you,” your unconscious mind assumes you’ve already received the gift, compliment or other gesture someone gives you. The key is not to wait for something to appear in your life to express your gratitude. Giving thanks is the starting point.
I always encourage weight loss clients to give thanks every day for already being at their healthy ideal weight. When you do this, you start eating and acting as if you are slender because your body believes this future event has already happened or is happening to you in the present moment. In this state of gratitude, you receive.
Neuroscience reveals that the practice of gratitude rewires your brain and creates a cocktail for wellness. When you give thanks, you receive a shot of dopamine. This chemical reaction feels so good that you want more. You also receive a swig of serotonin, the happy molecule. Like an antidepressant, it enhances your mood, willpower and motivation. The more you activate these gratitude circuits, the stronger these neural pathways become. And you’re also more likely to recognize and appreciate all that’s right in your life instead of habitually looking at what’s wrong.
Researchers at the University of Indiana found that the practice of giving thanks builds your brain’s ability to feel gratitude spontaneously. Other studies show a routine gratitude practice creates a healthful and self-perpetuating cycle in your brain. The more you purposefully count your blessings, the easier it is to count them as they happen. Your brain adapts to this mindset. Think of it as your brain having a gratitude muscle that becomes stronger when exercised.
In these worry-infested times, it’s never been more important to reduce your stress since stress weakens your immune system. The more you focus on the good in your life, the happier and healthier you are. Studies show that a practice of gratitude improves your overall physical, mental, and heart health, makes you more resilient to trauma, increases sleep quality and lowers levels of stress hormones. Being grateful reduces physical pain, anxiety and depression; it also increases your confidence and you realize a greater sense of self-worth.
Try it right now
One way of enhancing the experience of joy is to list things you’re grateful for. Studies show that just asking yourself the question: What am I grateful for? is enough to change your brain chemistry. Before asking yourself that question, take a moment now and notice what you’re feeling. Do you have a physical ache or pain? Are you feeling sad or stressed? Where in your body do you feel it?
I invite you to list five things that inspire your gratitude right now. (If you’re stuck, start with your breath.) By giving thanks, you can raise your happiness. Notice your aches, pains, sadness and stress; are they reduced or even eliminated?
Studies show the more gratitude someone feels, the more their sense of joy increases. This progression has been described as a virtuous upward spiral in which joy and gratitude mutually reinforce each other. The more gratitude you have, the greater your sense of joy, resulting in more gratitude. The more you give thanks, the more blessings you receive to be thankful for. What you feed really does grow!
A client once said, “Gratitude is the Velcro that holds it all together.” Previously, I described gratitude as the bow that ties life all together, but Velcro is a stronger, more powerful metaphor. So, to all my clients, I again express my gratitude for being the brilliant teachers you are.
Roger Moore is a certified counselor and registered medical hypnotherapist with Palm Desert Hypnosis and can be reached at Roger@HypnosisHealthInfo.com or (760) 219.8079. For more information, visit www.hypnosishealthinfo.com/medical-hypnosis. All sessions are online telehealth.
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