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The Mind Of Gratitude

Written by: Mark D. Lakowske, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 

“Count your blessings!”, “Be grateful for everything!”, “Be thankful!” We’ve all heard these kinds of sayings, haven’t we? Maybe someone has said them to you or perhaps you’ve said them to someone else. Why do these kinds of sayings keep going around? I think we can all agree that these common phrases are all about feeling better and having a happier life; but did you know that there is actual brain science & truth behind them?

Imagine for a moment getting a “Thank You” message. Someone has expressed gratitude towards you for who you are or something you did for them. How does that make you feel? I wonder, how does that make the other person feel? How does it make you feel knowing you made the other person feel positive? It feels pretty good, doesn’t it!?


Now think about something you have that is important.. It could be your home, a job, car, an opportunity, family, children, friends, a special relationship or the mug you have your coffee in (or tea, we are equal opportunity for a drink of choice!) every morning. Picture it in your mind or just think about it or know it. Remember all the things about it that are amazing! What does it allow you to do or have or be or feel that are good? Think about it until you notice yourself starting to smile or feel warm inside.


That feeling Gratitude is a simple thing... yet one of the most powerful & profound of human emotions!


Gratitude is like the light switch that turns our brains on! Flipping that switch automatically begins to shift us out of lack and towards paying attention to what we do in fact have. It takes us out of the past (where sadness lives) & out of the future (where anxieties live) and recenters us in the present moment! Using gratitude to light up our minds can truly motivate us out of problems and into solutions and our own wellbeing!


The truth is, our minds are incredible and studies have shown that the positive effects of mindful gratitude (when practiced daily) are almost the same as medications. It regulates our immune system and also our emotions.


Giving & receiving gratitude releases those feel good chemicals known as dopamine & serotonin in our brains. This activates our nervous system and our enhanced positive mood creates a feeling of heightened wellbeing from the inside out!


Gratitude magnitizes self-acceptance and self-love, compassion, empathy, peace, joy; while naturally lowering stress levels, anxiety, depression and even aches and pains!


When we are thankful we can better manage our positive emotions and bring more happiness, pleasure & satisfaction into our lives. In doing so our resilience and inner strength to face life’s challenges becomes stronger and we are able to deal with life’s hardships. Gratitude reconnects us to the things that give us courage and help us move on in our lives. It reminds us that our track record for getting through tough times has been 100%!


Just like exercising a muscle, when we experience gratitude routinely we strengthen our neural pathways. As these gratitude “roads in the mind” get stronger it leads to the creation of a more permanent positive & grateful nature that will be translated into your identity and very being!


So let me share with you some simple ways to practice mindful gratitude that will make you feel better! Are you ready!? Let’s go!


First off, it’s important to remember that practicing gratitude is a PRACTICE! The more you practice the better the impact will be on your spiritual, mental & physical well being! Remember, no one is good at it overnight and we get good at things we stick with. So when practiced enough we will become proficient to the point it becomes automatic & habitual! So practice that gratitude daily! You can start by simply appreciating what’s around you!


One of the simplest ways to actively do gratitude is to leave notes for people who mean a lot to you. Even though handwritten notes are best, in this day and age text messages or DMs count! Here’s the catch you can’t just say “Thank You”. You have to be detailed as to why you are giving the note. What are you grateful for or what do you appreciate about the other person?


Many of us tell others of their good attributes, but how often do we take even a minute to compliment ourselves? Celebrate who you are! Give yourself appreciation by standing in front of a mirror and speaking (out loud) five good things to yourself! It’s easy for most people to criticize themselves, and this might be a challenge, but accept the challenge! Talk about your achievements, things that you are doing right or well, how talented you are, your good qualities.


Every time you catch your reflection in a window or mirror look into your eyes and love yourself. God gave you this life, this body Even though you might not be the weight you’d like to be, you can still love the fact that you can move. Even though you might be hard of hearing, look at how strong your other senses are. Even though you might stutter, look at how you can still express yourself in wonderful ways. Even though you didn’t do xyz right, love the fact that you tried it and learned from it.


There is power in words and for years people have suggested writing in a gratitude journal. You can keep a journal, or type on the computer or leave yourself text messages or even voice recordings. Do what works for you. The point is you have a space where you can document all of those big & little (don’t overlook the small things) moments in your life that you are grateful for. This is all about making the conscious choice to to actively focus on the good things in your life... you might even remember things you thought you had forgotten!


The idea of keeping a journal for me seemed like a lot of work, but I like the idea. So what I’ve done is I just do bullet points in a notebook! A gratitude list is a quick and easy way to be mindfully thankful. Doing it right before you go to sleep is a great way to end your day! Jot down five things during the day that were good! Note five things that made you happy, laugh or smile. Make a list of people who’ve been good to you or helped you in some way. Remember the day and how they cared. Feel the thankfulness in your heart and read and look at your list for one to two minutes in appreciation. You can even use this list as a jumping-off point to write notes to those people or even plan a visit with them.


Make an effort to visit with someone who is important to you once or twice a month. Or if you don’t have anyone to visit with then chat with the person sitting next to you or who you might see in a store. You could even volunteer. You might be the only person they ever see. Express gratitude for them, compliment them, help them out, exchange or even create memories with them or offer your support. I make it a point to go see my Grandma and even though she may forget I was there three minuses after I leave the point is about being in the moment and sharing your love and appreciation.


Who knows, this might lead to you finding a gratitude buddy (or more than one)! Finding someone who will allocate time everyday (or at least once a week) where the two of you can sit together or jump on the phone and chit chat about the things you are thankful for can be very uplifting. You can ask each other questions about gratitude, share thoughts about what it means to be grateful and this helps to validate the other person and allows more gratitude to grow. Just like having a “workout buddy” having a gratitude buddy is a great way to sustain your positive outlook, motivation & it will strengthen your emotional skills!


As a Hypnotherapist, I always start my client’s sessions with breath work. The act of breathing itself can be something to be grateful for. After all, we only have the “now” breath. Our past breath is gone and we aren’t promised the future breath. When we take time to stop and think about the breath we have right now it automatically brings us into the present moment and centers us in gratitude. The breath allows our minds to settle, relax and connect to ourselves in a deeper way.


Once you feel more centered in your breath and you feel more relaxed I’d like you to recall a time in your past life when you were going through something painful... just stay with me for a moment here...it could be a break up, a betrayal, an illness, a personal failure. Then take another breath and close your eyes. Remember those difficult days...days when you thought you might not be able to make it through. Slowly turn your attention towards the life you are living right now. Think of all the different things that you never thought you could get after the hurtful past encounter. Think of all the better doors that have been opened to you after the others slammed shut. Think about how safe & happy you are now. Celebrate your strength, your journey, what you learned & gained. Stay there for a moment and then slowly open your eyes.


Doing this will connect you to your resilience, fortitude & help you to feel more confident.


Gratitude is not a magic pill or a cure all or even a quick fix... It also doesn’t mean that we will be in a state of happiness and bliss 100% of the time... but what it is, is an acceptance of what you DO have, who you REALLY are and that things can & will be better. Good things do exist and you are a part of that. Remember that and be grateful!


Your Favorite

Hypnotist, Mark D. Lakowske CTC® CMHT®

For more info, follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn, or visit my website!


 

Mark D. Lakowske, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine Multiple award-winning & internationally renowned clinical hypnotherapist Mark D. Lakowske has trained practitioners worldwide in his groundbreaking methods. Through this and his own practice, he has helped improve the lives of tens of thousands of people in countries ranging from the United States to Australia & New Zealand. Mark is an author of three books & regularly tours the world, contributing ideas to the development of hypnotherapy practice. His passion & drive is assisting people to overcome the overwhelming & live with more confident joy & happiness!

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