Reading is a non-negotiable in my life. I will stay up late to read (which is when I usually find time) and I’m always looking for something new to add to my list. My latest favorite? Click through to find out…
Before I get started on the book above, let’s talk about gratitude. I know you know what it is, but did you know gratitude can actually change your brain?! It’s true.
In a recent study on gratitude, a team of researchers out of Indiana University recruited 43 subjects suffering from anxiety or depression. Half of this group were assigned a simple gratitude exercise – writing letters of thanks to people in their lives, and three months later all 43 underwent brain scans.
During these brain scans the subjects took part in a gratitude task where they were told a benefactor had given them a sum of money and were asked whether they’d like to donate a portion of the funds to charity as an expression of their gratitude. Those who gave away money showed a particular pattern of activity in their brains, and the participants who’d completed the gratitude task months earlier not only reported feeling more gratefulness two weeks after the task than members of the control group, but also, months later, showed more gratitude-related brain activity in the scanner.
The researchers described these neural effects as ‘profound’ and ‘particularly noteworthy,’ and the result suggests that the more practice you give your brain at feeling and expressing gratitude, the more it adapts to this mindset. Think about it as your brain as having a sort of gratitude ‘muscle’ that can be exercised and strengthened…the more of an effort you make to feel gratitude one day, the more the feeling will come to you spontaneously in the future.
In The Gratitude Diaries, journalist and former Parade editor in chief Janice Kaplan makes a promise to be grateful and look on the bright side of whatever happens. She realizes that how she feels over the next twelve months will have less to do with the events that occur than with her own attitude and perspective. Getting advice at every turn from psychologists, academics, doctors, and philosophers, she brings readers on a smart and witty journey to discover the value of appreciating what you have. Janice’s pioneering research was praised in People and Vanity Fair and hailed on TV shows including Today, The O’Reilly Factor, and CBS’s The Talk.
So, I’m in. I got myself a sweet little yellow notebook full of blank pages ready to be filled up with gratitude lists. Sounds easy, right?
Not quite. Take a minute right now and think about how grateful you have been just today. Just this morning. That’s it. Did you take any time to practice gratitude? The answer is probably no, right? I’m not calling you out, because I’m the same way. You get all amped up about being grateful and focusing on the positive but life sorta…gets in the way. You get stuck behind a slow driver, you hear about a relative that is ill, you watch the news, and your mood can kind of shift away toward, well, complaining. At least that’s how it can go with me.
It takes work to be grateful. You have to make it a habit, a practice, just like working out (which I’m also not great at doing all the time).
But, I’m going to give it a shot, with this book to help nudge me along. I’m going to open up my little yellow notebook every day to write down what I am grateful for for an entire year. I’ll report back now and then to let you know how it’s going. Anyone want to join me? Comment below and we’ll get started together…xoxo
ps, find the book locally here