MAX Mindfulness: Gratitude – The Medicine for our Mind!

I saw this quote recently and just had to mention it.  Here it is:  FEAR HAS THE VOLUME CONTROL ON OUR THOUGHTS!

As I’ve shared before, the reptilian part of our brains is wired to look out for danger.  That is a generally a good thing – it keeps us alive in traffic, watching out for our kids and loved ones, and out of many potential dangers.  Equally true, however, is that it generally goes overboard so that we start to note things like, “Why did that person give me that look?”, “What did they mean by that remark?”, or creating our focus on all the bad that can happen.  It also keeps us from being our best selves by introducing fear into our lives so that we too often ask, ‘What if…’ questions.  What if he/she doesn’t like me?  What if I make a mistake?  What if this doesn’t work?

So mindfulness, paying attention to our thoughts is key.  And another really simple thing that will do more to conquer this fear than any other single thing is learning to express gratitude.  There have been many exhaustive studies that show the positive effects of being thankful and grateful.  I’m listing some of them here:

Physical Benefits of Gratitude:

  • Stronger immune systems
  • Less bothered by aches and pains
  • Lower blood pressure
  • More physical movement and better care of health
  • People sleep longer and better

Psychological Benefits of Gratitude:

  • Higher levels of positive emotions
  • More alert, alive and awake
  • More joy and pleasure in life
  • More optimism and happiness

Social Benefits of Gratitude:

  • More helpful, giving and compassionate
  • More forgiving
  • Less lonely and isolated feelings
  • More outgoing

There are literal changes that occur in our brains when we practice gratitude.  Dopamine (the feel good hormone) is released.  And Serotonin is released (too little of this leads to depression).  Now here’s the really good news.  It doesn’t take much effort to create these benefits in our lives!  What is the secret?  Journal!   Grab a notebook (or there are phone apps for this) and each night before you retire, write down three things that went well for you that day and why they were good for you.  Or three things that you are really thankful for that showed up in your life that day.   Keep doing it as often as possible, preferably daily, and you will literally change the chemistry of your brain.  It’s hard to believe but the studies show it is that simple!  It is literally taking medicine for our mind!

Dave Wine David Wine

David is the President and CEO of the MAX enterprise, having served in that capacity since its formation in 2001.   He has forty plus years of  leadership experience in the business and faith-based worlds, being an ordained minister, having been elected to the highest position in his denomination,  and receiving numerous awards and recognition for his leadership in the insurance industry. He currently serves on numerous boards in the church and insurance sectors.  His hobbies include hiking, biking, skiing and snowshoeing as well as being an avid reader.  David and his wife, Sharon, have three daughters, a son, and six grandchildren.