Where were you on 9/11? What were you doing when you got the news of a close friend or family member’s unexpected death?
Chances are good, if you have lived through traumatic events, you remember vividly the circumstances surrounding the episode.
Ironically, you may be able to detail what you were wearing when you got bad news, but may not be able to remember your best friend’s birthday.
What makes bad news so much easier to remember? Scientists have studied the phenomenon, and have classified it as the result of activity in the region of the brain responsible for emotional processing. To counteract this, you have to work twice as hard to fill your mind with positive, joyous thoughts. Do you find yourself focusing on the negative things in your life? It may be time to make gratitude a priority.
Gratitude is the act of expressing thanks for what you have. In your personal life, you can find much to be grateful for on a daily basis. Want to focus on the blessings in your life? Here’s how to get started.
Look for opportunities to be grateful in every part of your day. Here are four ways to get started:
Be vocal with gratitude. Use your voice to say ‘Thank you’ to your family and friends, without the assumption that everyone just ‘knows’ how much you care for and appreciate them. Express your appreciation by telling them how much they mean to you personally, as well as thanking them for things they may have done.
Practice mindfulness. Set aside a few moments every day to picture the things for which you’re grateful. Concentrate on how you feel in that moment and remember it, enabling you do return to those feelings anytime you may find yourself losing sight of your gratitude.
Seek out the positive. You don’t have to look very far to find reasons to be grateful. Start simple. You woke up this morning. There is food to eat in your home. You have a job that allows you to earn money for your family. The sky is crystal clear and you can feel a cool breeze. Allowing yourself to notice even the smallest things you have will help you form a habit of gratitude.
Start a gratitude journal. Select a journal that you’ll want to write in regularly. Take a few minutes every day to jot down 3 – 5 things that you appreciate. Start small – if you can only come up with “I saw a beautiful sunset,”, start there and you can add to it at a later date. Provide as many details about the moment as possible. As seen above, the human brain attaches memories to specific events. Over time, the details of the event may fade, but the emotional connection that was made will remain. Develop a habit of writing in your journal every day, either in the morning or before you go to bed.
Focusing on the positive things in your life can have a powerful impact. It enables you to see the many blessings you have. In addition, it opens you up for the possibilities of new things and it can affect your mood in a positive way. As you focus on gratitude, endorphins are released, improving your mood and your outlook.
It’s not all bad news, what are you grateful for today?