Many people choose the month of November to reflect on all that they are thankful for, but practicing gratitude doesn’t have to be limited to one month per year.
In this episode, you’ll hear how evidence shows that a regular gratitude practice has an impact on your brain, health, and well-being. And make sure to listen until the end to hear easy ways to develop a daily gratitude practice.
You will want to hear this episode if you are interested in…
- What happened when I decided to focus on gratitude every day for 30 days [2:12]
- What studies on gratitude reveal [3:25]
- Joining me for 30 days of intentional gratitude [7:35]
30 days of gratitude changed my life
As I approached a milestone birthday, I was feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders. Deep in the trenches of postpartum feelings, I struggled to find ways to celebrate myself. That’s when I decided to flip the narrative by finding something each day to be grateful for for the entire month leading up to my birthday.
Every day over the course of that month I posted something that I was grateful for in my life. At first, practicing gratitude felt a bit forced and unnatural, but over time it became easier. I discovered that the more I focused on what I was grateful for the more good I noticed in my life. Even on the hardest days, I could always find something I was thankful for.
This simple act created a tangible shift in my thought patterns and my outlook, but what’s more, it changed my brain.
Research shows that regular gratitude practice changes the brain
Research shows that practicing gratitude calms the deep limbic areas of the brain and enhances other judgment centers of the brain.
When we think about something frequently we create stronger neural pathways in our brains.
Brain scans have shown a radical difference in the cerebellum and temporal lobes of those who focus on negative emotions as opposed to those who focus on gratitude.
Other studies show that people who express gratitude regularly are healthier, more optimistic, make better progress toward their goals, have a greater sense of well-being, and are more helpful to others.
Cultivating gratitude is an easy way to improve your wellbeing
Practicing gratitude is one of the easiest ways to improve your well-being–it certainly beats running miles on the treadmill!
I used to fixate on the challenges in my life, but after training my brain for 30 days I literally rewired the way I was thinking. My neural connections on gratitude became stronger than those built on negativity or fears. I rewired my brain and with some practice, you can too.
Cultivating a gratitude practice doesn’t mean that you’ll become overly optimistic or lose touch with reality, rather, it means that you take time to focus on what is going well in your life. And practicing gratitude simply means pausing for a moment to focus on what is going well in your life in the midst of the hard things.
Oprah sums this up beautifully by stating, “being grateful all the time isn’t easy, but it’s when you least feel thankful that you are most in need of what gratitude can give you–perspective.”
The more you choose to focus on the good, the more your brain will strengthen that neural pathway and you will spend less time ruminating on your worries and fears. You may discover that your anxiety decreases and that you create a more positive outlook on your life.
Create your own regular gratitude practice
I encourage you to join me for 30 days of gratitude. Over the next 30 days, take a few minutes each day to pause and focus on the positive things in your life among all the challenges.
Download this free gratitude worksheet that you can print out to help you create your own gratitude practice over the next 30 days.
If you are a Lindywell member, your 30 day gratitude practice will be even easier since we are infusing a gratitude practice into your new monthly Pilates workout. And if you aren’t a member yet, now is a fantastic time to join. Click this link to give Lindwell a try
Resources & People Mentioned
- Amen Clinics article – 7 Ways to Remain Grateful All Year Long
- Episode 65 – Self Love Guided Meditation
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