Research shows that practicing gratitude on a regular basis is associated with heightened optimism, improved sleep, less illness, and lower levels of depression and anxiety. As Robin Sharma has distinctly summed it up:
"Gratitude drives happiness. Happiness boosts productivity. Productivity reveals mastery. And mastery inspires the world."
Studies found that by practicing gratitude, we can rewire our brains for more positive thoughts and feelings. Think of the brain as a forest, our neural pathways like the forest trails. The trails used more often become permanent while the lesser used trails disappear. Consistently focusing on things we are thankful for, we transform our "forests" or brains. The positive "trails" or neural pathways strengthen, becoming easily accessible while increasing our optimism.
Here are two activities you and your child can try to increase positive mental health and overall well-being.
Try these two steps after waking up in the morning or before you go to bed – or at any point in the day:
If you notice your mind moving into a negative direction, try redirecting your thoughts. Try to see what's good about the situation you are inclined to be negative about. This can drastically change the way you feel at the moment. By getting into the routine of redirecting our thoughts, you are rebuilding those positive and strengths-based neural pathways in your brain.
Practicing gratitude can shift our feelings to an optimistic direction and improve our overall well being physically and mentally. It becomes possible for us to be more calm or thoughtful, feel our stress levels drop, and be present in a positive way to those we love. I urge you to try these two exercises as we enter the holiday season.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!