It seems you can’t open a magazine or log onto social media these days without hearing about the benefits of being thankful and showing gratitude. Everyone is talking about it this time of year since we just celebrated Thanksgiving, and the rest of the winter holidays will be here soon.
Yes, it’s very important to say “thank you” to people in your life that do nice things for you, and it’s just good karma to send a nod to the universe when things are going your way. But did you know that practicing gratitude on a regular basis, all year long, can really do some positive things for your life?
One of the simplest things to do is write down 3 things you are thankful for before heading off to bed. Why is this useful? Is this anything more than a feel good exercise? I think so, and I’ll tell you why…
I’ve been studying life and career coaching, and many of the ideas are based in neuroscience, basically, the study of how our brains work. Something that comes up again and again is that humans are creatures of habit, and starting new endeavors or breaking old, negative ways of doing things takes a good deal of effort. We have to work to focus on and repeat new ideas and new behaviors in order to make them stick.
When we make an effort to dredge up 3 truly positive things each day (I say dredge, because sometimes bad days can be epic), we train our brain to begin focusing on the positive. When we spend a few minutes focusing on the positive each night before bed, we give our brains a chance to “marinate” these ideas while we sleep, and doing that can lead to more restful sleep, which helps make us feel more refreshed in the morning. (Nothing to scoff at!)
If we continue this pattern, our brains simply spend more time looking on the bright side, which can ultimately improve your overall outlook. And repeating this exercise each night requires you to get creative in order to write down new things each night. It may even train your brain to look for the positive all day long, no matter what the situation.
The benefits are potentially significant, and it takes about 5 minutes and costs nothing, so as much as I hate to be one of “those people”, I’m jumping on the gratitude bandwagon!