As Thanksgiving day approaches, my thoughts turn to gratitude. I have been seeing articles in the paper recently about the positive effects of gratitude and positive thought. Studies exist that show that people who express gratitude are less aggressive, happier, and more optimistic. In the studies, simply writing down five things you are grateful for on a daily basis was enough to influence people in a positive way. An online search for gratitude research turns up many articles, as gratitude has become a hot topic for research.
This change in the way people feel should not be surprising. We now have “functional brain scans” that can show us what is happening in the brain with changes in thought. Studies show that your thoughts create brain activity. These thought patterns, if repetitive, can actually perpetuate negative behavior because the brain creates a “pattern” that becomes hardwired. Don’t forget that your thoughts cause a chemical release in your brain and have an impact on how you feel. The chemicals released depend on the thoughts you have, and affect your mood and behavior. “Automatic Negative Thoughts,” as described by Dr. Daniel Amen in Change Your Brain, Change Your Life, can lead to moodiness, depression, and irritability. Changing the thought patterns and getting rid of toxic negative thoughts, however, can change this. (See Dr. Amen’s books that outline ways to banish and replace these negative thoughts.) To further complicate things and to learn more about your thoughts and where they come from (where do your thoughts reside and originate anyway?), watch “The Living Matrix”. You will come away with even more awe and respect for life and your miraculous body.
As this Thanksgiving rolls around and you are spending it with friends and family, take some time to express your gratitude and think loving thoughts about yourself. It will likely make the holiday a much better experience even in the most trying of families or situations.
I am grateful for my family in all its diversity.
I am grateful for a new puppy that brings laughter and joy to our house.
I am grateful for my morning walks and beautiful sunrise in Sausalito.
I am grateful for Jack.
I am grateful for a good night’s sleep.
Now make your gratitude list and write it down every day. Remember, “Your thoughts create your life.”