The evidence is in. Gratitude practices rock! Oprah. Brené Brown. Scientists.
So why do so many people find they turn stale and lifeless after awhile? It’s one more thing to tick off our already overwhelming to-do list. The promises of transformation fall short.
The fact that we’re doing a gratitude practice does tend to help us tune in to cool people and events throughout the day. The idea is to come up with 3 things we are grateful for each evening and it helps if we’re paying attention as we move through our day.
Neuroscientists like Dr Rick Hanson tell us that we need to pay attention to positive feelings and events for at least 20 to 30 seconds for the brain to register them. Only then will we grow new neural networks for positivity. This is due to the negativity bias of the brain. Our survival as a species counts on noticing danger. To improve our happiness as a person, we need to deliberately notice the positive since the average person’s brain doesn’t do that on its own.
Mindfulness and meditation train our brain. We develop the capacity to concentrate. We are more aware of our body, both physically and the ever changing energy and sensations. The networks and activity in our brains change and we overcome some of the evolutionary limitations that don’t work so well in modern life.
The secret to a juicy gratitude practice is mindfulness in our body. We need to visualize what we are grateful for in full living color. See the specific images. The look on their face. Their tone of voice and sound of the words. And we need to feel gratitude in our body.
What does fear have to do with this? New research sheds light on one reason why people benefit from gratitude practices.
Join us to practice and explore gratitude and fear in our June 2nd meeting of my new annual program Mindfulness, Self-Compassion and Healing Trauma. You are welcome to register for 1 month or the full year. We meet the 1st Sunday of each month at 3PM Eastern.