(A Warrant-of-Fitness is the New Zealand equivalent of an M.O.T. in the UK, being a certificate to say your vehicle is road worthy.)
The benefits of gratitude have become more widely understood and appreciated in recent times. Research shows that simply expressing gratitude or having an attitude of gratitude actually changes our brain chemistry. It increases the production of Serotonin and Dopamine, two major players in depression. It increases our sense of well-being, positivity and can lift our mood. It’s a simple, easy, and drug free tool we can use in our everyday lives as we move towards our Mental and Emotional Warrant-of Fitness. The more we activate the release of these chemicals the happier we feel and the more healthful choices we are likely to make.
We might not ‘feel’ grateful but there’s always something to be grateful for, even if we can’t always see it. Now I’m not suggesting we ignore our feelings, push them down or deny them, nor tolerate abuse, but finding a few things that we can be grateful for can start to change our brain chemistry, which, of course, changes our mood.
When we are in a different head-space we are more likely to make self-supporting choices.
Change your brain chemistry = change your mood = change your actions/behaviours = change your brain chemistry = change your mood……and so it goes on.
Keeping a gratitude journal is one way of making a conscious effort and recording things we can be grateful for. Even if your life is shit right now and you are going through some extremely difficult experiences, we can start to shift our attention just a teeny-weeny bit to what we DO have or can be grateful for, even if it’s the clothes on our backs, food in our tummies, our ability to breath without pain. It’s amazing – once you start noticing these things you may find more!
Our bodies are a multitude of miracles, all working in harmony with each other, effortlessly and easily. Sure, sometimes they need some support or repair, but for the most part our bodily systems and their tasks are orchestrated on their own. When I take a moment to acknowledge this one fact alone, I cannot help but be grateful.
It all starts by making a decision. We can choose to be grateful. I started last year to make an effort to state 3 things I’m grateful for each morning before rising and another 3 before going to sleep. I soon found that I was noticing and saying a lot more than 3 things. When walking in nature I find gratitude wells up in me easily. I’m grateful for my mobility, the beauty of nature and eyes to see it. I’m grateful for being grateful! We can combine gratitude and thankfulness with positive affirmations too to improve our mood and raise our vibration.
Another thing we can do is write a letter. I love writing letters I’m never going to send; they are a great way to get in touch with and move through our feelings. We can write a letter to the Universe, or to ourselves and to our bodies for all they do for us. Writing things down makes them more concrete, tangible, activating more neural connections in the brain. Journalling can release Dopamine, the chemical associated with the pleasure centres and habit-forming parts of our brains.
Writing a letter to your body is another way of communicating with yourself and taking time to appreciate all the things it does for us. You may find it wants to speak back and ask you to treat it with more love and kindness!
You can also vent and complain if you wish, e.g. “I’m annoyed with you hands for not working properly!” Up-chucking on the page like this I call it, is great catharsis. What usually starts off as something between our heads and the page starts to connects us with our hearts, what’s truly at the core of things and can move to a full body experience of releasing bodily held emotions that lay hidden out of our everyday awareness but hamper our progress in life.
Whether we say things we are grateful for out loud or write them down, gratitude is a drug free, easy to use tool in our daily lives and to have in our Mental and Emotional health tool-kit.
Today, I am grateful for the gift of life, the beauty of nature and the love of my family and friends.
What are you grateful for? I’d love to know.
© Karen Lighthouse 2022
Thanks for reading and take care until next time.
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Words by Karen Lighthouse.
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