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DSC00751Did you know that just by searching for positive things to be grateful for, you are activating your brain to produce more “feel good” hormones? Just by the process itself you are changing how your brain is operating.

Wow! That’s pretty significant. But why then don’t we focus more on all the blessings and things we can be thankful for rather than the things we don’t like and that make us unhappy?

Because we also get a payoff from continuing to focus on all the bad things.  We are rewarded at least in the short term. Even worrying makes your brain feel better – at least for the moment.  But not in the long term.

And that is what is important – the long term consequence of what you are doing.  Because that will have a more lasting effect on everything you do.  It produces a feedback loop that continues to expand into more positive things.

Alex Korb, a UCLA neuroscience researcher gives us insights into the importance of gratefulness, happiness, and reduced depression in our life and has written a book about it entitled The Upward Spiral: Using Neuroscience to Reverse the Course of Depression, One Small Change at a Time.

j0438577We see around us so much anger and hatred; hanging onto  grievances and seeking retribution. We fail to see the long term negative effect it can have on us.

As a therapist and former teacher and facilitator, I encourage people to challenge negative thinking and replace with more positive thinking.  As we change how we interpret and respond to life’s challenges, we will begin to see things to be grateful for. Even if they seem small and inconsequential, they are still important.

It isn’t events or people who make us angry, depressed, etc. It is how we choose to respond to whatever is happening around us.

We can reframe our circumstances so we not only see the bad stuff but the good stuff too, which all too often gets pushed in the background. The wonderful thing is that nobody can force us to remain angry, upset or hopeless if we choose not to.

Start a gratitude journal

Get a journal and call it your gratitude journal.  Every day write down something you are thankful for.  Search for those jewels of gratitude.  Include those bits of humor or funny quips – those things that make you smile. Read them as often as you can.

Purposefully search out those blessings and they will expand your frame of reference – your view of the world. You no longer see the telescopic dot of misery, but other aspects of life that is good. When you do, you will find your mood, attitude, thinking, point of view, and your life take on a new color, a new sense of thankfulness and contentment.

We are making choices all the time. We choose what we want to focus our attention on. We can focus on constructive planning and decision making or we can focus on thinking about how nothing will turn out. We can choose to worry or we can choose to put our energy into problem solving. We can spend our time thinking about how little we have or we can be truly grateful for all we do have. We can choose to be happy.

Marlene Anderson

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