Cultivating Gratitude - Being Intentionally Grateful & 5 Ways to Achieve Ultimate Joy
Today, T. Lavon Lawrence & David N. Johnson will be discussing how having an attitude of gratitude can change your entire outlook on life. It may sound overly simplistic, maybe even pie in the sky, but don’t let that deter you from intentionally being grateful. During today’s episode, you’ll learn the benefits of gratitude because well, we have to start there and 5 ways that you can intentionally add it to your daily routine.
Cultivating Gratitude - Benefits of Being Grateful on Purpose People who feel gratitude have
- More energy
- More optimism
- Better social connections
- More happiness and joy than those who don’t
- The practice of Gratitude REWIRES your brain for JOY
“It’s not the joy that makes us grateful it’s gratitude that makes us joyful.” --David Steindl-Rast
So, What is Joy as it Relates to the Practice of Intentional Gratitude?
Joy is a feeling of great pleasure and happiness. But, joy is more than just happiness. It’s much grander than JUST that. Joy is happiness infused with comfort, wrapped in peace, and is evoked by well-being, success, and great pleasure.
Joyful is what you are while happiness is what you do. Joy is much more long lasting, while happiness can be fleeting, So going back to that quote, it's not the joy that makes us grateful. It's the gratitude that makes us more joyful.
Intentional Gratitude is a legitimate 'Brain Training' exercise that initiates your brain's 'Neuroplasticity,' processes wherein the neural pathways responsible for delivering positive, uplifting, empowering emotions to you are gradually remapped and made stronger.
That rewiring is so important in that it makes your ability to perceive reasons for gratitude ever easier. Yes, it does become easier with practice. The more you do it, the easier it will be for you to slip into that neural pathway of becoming more grateful. That way, you learn you don't reach for that negativity - you reach for that cup of joy and drink of that, instead.
Gratitude Summons 'The Law of Displacement' - Your Brain Drops One Focus in Favor of a Better One
Intentional gratitude is now accepted as an effective form of therapy for treating mental health conditions like depression.
The fact that it is so effective can be credited to the Psychological 'The Law of Displacement' and its ability to rewire your brain for better focus and a richer life experience.
The more you employ the practice of looking for target people, places, things, and situations to feel grateful for (no matter how small), the more intracellular connections produced by your brain.
The brain wiring changes that result from Intentional Gratitude make it easier for you to feel better about anything you choose to see from a unique perspective of finding benefit even when none are obvious. Gratitude cultivates creativity, enthusiasm, attractiveness, and unlimited potential for enjoying life.
All of that must happen at the expense of ingratitude, negativity, and discontent. The good news is that you don't have to battle the negative states since you'll find it much easier to simply shift your attention to something much more interesting and pleasant for your mental health. Your brain can't hold two thoughts simultaneously, and certainly can't immerse fully into dual ideas at once.
Since your brain can only have one dominant focus at a time, the mental exercise of Intentional Gratitude pulls cognitive resources away from negative mental states and redirects them to answering effective questions you have to ask yourself in order to access the mental state of Gratitude.
These kinds of simple questions help you detach from ongoing concerns to shift your mental power to focus on people, places, and things for which you can feel a sense of gratitude whether small or large.
Either scale of thankfulness releases motivating chemicals in your brain that make it more pleasant and tantalizing to repeat the expression of gratitude until the practice becomes a habit you don't want to stop.
They are the same kinds of questions that really successful people ask themselves, and they go something like:
What Am I Grateful For Today?
What Am I Grateful For Right Now?
What Could I Be Grateful For If I Were Willing?
There are many ways to structure the questions you gently ask yourself so that you can contemplate those things that make you feel good, appreciated, hopeful, loved, cared for, protected, safe, attractive, or whatever you enjoy. Feel free to find your own favorites that work to inspire you to find small things to feel good about.
Why is Gratitude so Important?
- It helps you to relieve stress
- It rewires your neural pathways so that you don’t focus so much on the negative, it reminds you that there are things to be grateful for
- It helps you to sleep better
- It improves your romantic relationships by allowing you to be more at the moment
- It improves your physical & mental health (Bring up the pillar)
- It improves your self-esteem
- Helps you to be more resilient in your everyday lives
Why would anybody want to resist being more grateful in their daily lives?
People resist out of fear. They resist because they don't really understand what gratitude is, they might think it's a weakness or vulnerability. And there are people who are so addicted to their negative thoughts and their negative thought patterns that they can't even see a way to being more grateful. Some of the reasons that people would try to resist being more grateful on a daily basis include:
- Mislabeling, Wrong Assumptions
- Fear, Fear of Vulnerability
- Negative Thought Habits, Homeostasis
- Pessimism, Cynicism, Bad Attitude
- Negative Self-Concept & Low Self-Esteem
How do we make ourselves intentionally grateful?
We have established that we should practice the continual action of 'gratitude on purpose' so that we can become more joyful in our everyday lives. So, what are some ways we can express gratitude throughout our day so that it becomes an automatic habit?
Here are five different ways that you can infuse gratitude into your life:
- Keep a journal of or in some way note big and little joys of daily life.
- Build in moments in your daily lives to reflect on the things that really matter.
- Think about people who have inspired you and what about them was most significant so that you can apply those same characteristics to finding inspiring people locally with similar traits with whom you can associate.
- Engage in "mental subtraction." Imagine what your life would be like if some positive event had not occurred.
- Write 'Thank You' notes.