Gratitude is not about being happy or looking on the bright side of everything no matter tragic or difficult. Toxic positivity is pretending everything is okay when it's not. Gratitude is appreciating the things we have instead of reaching for something else to fill the gap.
Despite what you may see, there is no one who floats around in a happiness bubble all the time. We all have difficulties and challenges—and days where we're just pissed off.
However, even with a strong wellness practice, our minds can trick us into feeling stuck, irritable, angry, and unmotivated more often than we'd like.
Gratitude is appreciating the things we have instead of reaching for something else to fill the gap.
Dr. Rick Hanson, a neuroscientist from UC Berkley, says that if we can focus on the positive feelings, things, events, and people in our lives for at least 20-30 seconds, our brains will begin to register those positive feelings and begin to grow our neural network to seek out happiness. The more time to spend looking for things to be grateful for, the more grateful you become. Unfortunately, people are wired to constantly look out for danger which can create a negativity bias in the brain that can lead to anxiety, depression, self-doubt, and pessimism. Our brains are amazing machines but they aren't going to bliss out on their own. We have to constantly remind them to relax and look at the good things in like. We have to practice mindfulness and meditation to train our brain.
The more we practice mindfulness and meditation, the more we develop the capacity to concentrate, the more we become aware of our body and our energy.
The secret to juicy feelings of gratitude is mindfulness and practice.
Give It a Try
Today is a great day to begin a gratitude practice. What's a gratitude practice? It's simply spending some time each day thinking about gratitude.
To begin, try focusing on three things you are grateful for. They don't have to be big things, they can be small things you notice in the room around you. Visualize them. Spend time thinking about each one—at least 20-30 seconds. 🙏
Try writing them in a gratitude journal. "I am grateful for ____ because ____."
Try saying them out loud. "I am grateful for ____ because ____."
Today I am grateful for each and every one of you. This week, your challenge is to establish a gratitude practice. It doesn't have to be long. It just has to be consistent.