Nurturing a Thankful Spirit
Have you ever seen the quote, “Change your thoughts and you change your world”? Well, it’s true. How do we make our brain happy so that we may have a better lens to view life? Through working in the early childhood field and with medical personnel, social workers, therapist, counselors, and behavioral specialists, I have come to know the special effects gratitude has on your brain the science exists.
Often when I think of being thankful, I reflect on times that I experienced immense gratitude. The moments of gratitude that I remember bring forth feelings of joy and peace. Lack of gratitude would be a result of experiences that are opposite to peace and joy, so chaos and despair. Parenthood comes with challenges and moments of chaos are inevitable. Social media can add to struggles in comparing lives draining joy and ultimately leading to lack of gratitude. If you are feeling stuck or feel lack of gratitude, do not worry. There is hope and you can change your thoughts.
Here’s what I do to help nourish my thoughts and make my brain focus on joy and gratitude.
I start by identifying things in my life that are chaotic or bring feelings of despair. Chaos is sometimes unavoidable being a mother of two very energetic boys. However, if I name the points of chaos, I can think of solutions where there can be a little more structure or peace. So how do you create peaceful situations within your realm of parenthood? Here are a few ways I create moments peace in my everyday life:
- Sit in nature and soak in the beauty, enjoy the details
- Journal to help sort out my thoughts and name my feelings
- Take a break, be in silence, and disengage from technology
- Sleep, with focus on a good unwinding evening routine
- Light a candle if you are grieving, celebrating, or just because
- Create moments of silence to enjoy, like while driving, no music or noise
When I am in a peaceful state a mind, it is easier for me to work on gratitude. Gratitude is like a muscle that needs to be exercised. The more you exercise gratitude the stronger it is. Having a grateful heart and spirit isn’t a one-day thing, it’s with small moments that then add up to a day, leading to a grateful life.
There are struggles. If we start to dissect our lives, it is easy to point out the bad, the shortcomings of others and ourselves. We can focus on that and our lives can seem unattractive. That is easy to do and not a pleasant way to view life. Let us work on having a thankful spirit this holiday season through the little things. Having a grateful heart leads to sharing that peace and joy with others like our children. What are some ways that I have worked on gratitude?
- Appreciate the little things– We live in a great place with changing seasons. I appreciate the temperature changes, the immense details in foliage, for instance the leaves, and enjoying sipping on a warm tea.
- Change internal dialogue– Life doesn’t always go as planned so shine light on the good. Even in challenging circumstances, there are good lessons to be learned. Be mindful of your thoughts, seek the good always.
- Practice gratitude– Every morning one of my goals is to drop my son off at school on time. This was a challenge a year ago, so every time I meet this goal, I take 10-20 seconds to celebrate that accomplishment. It may sound silly but it works wonders!
- End on a good note– One of my favorite parts of the day is being able to go to sleep so my brain can rest. What I have learned is to say thanks for the good things in my day. I make a mental list of two or three things that went well in the day and then I think of all the little details that made it possible for those good things to happen. It is a nice way to fall asleep smiling.
Gratitude is a skill we can all practice and it takes time and effort. I hope you can seek the little things in life that bring peace and joy to your heart! I wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving day, and may you acknowledge and appreciate the simple things in life!
Below are some further reading materials about how gratitude rewires your brain for good. Remember to check out our Holiday Resource Guide if you are in need of help this holiday season.
The Health Benefits of Gratitude: 6 Scientifically Proven Ways Being Grateful Rewires Your Brain Body for Health
What Science Reveals About Gratitude’s Impact on the Brain– New research sheds light on the physiology of gratitude, bringing us closer to being able to understand and harness the health benefits of this powerful emotion.
The Grateful Brain– The neuroscience of giving thanks.