I've scribbled the alphabet for meaning since I can remember.
Keeping a gratitude journal might sound trite; it’s not. Our preferences and habits create a filter in our mind’s eye, to find what we are seeking. Alex Korb, Ph.D. explained: “…your brain loves to fall for the confirmation bias, that is it looks for things that prove what it already believes to be true.”
I would add, it looks for its preferences. For example, I was walking with my two year old nephew the other day. “Plane, plane!” He says to me. Looking up in the sky, I see nothing but a tree-scape. Slowly my mind hears the tell-tale sign of a plane just before it peeks past the limits of the tree-line.
Ryan, my nephew, is fascinated by planes, trains and trucks. His awareness is fine-tuned to them, so he found them. He found what he wanted to see.
Some of us are complainers. Some of us aren’t. Some of us are in process of re-training our mind’s habits. You cannot control the chaos of life; you may only control your reaction. Does seeing a beautiful flower change horrible news? I don’t know. I know for a moment I get to be soaked in the beauty of nature, where I otherwise would not. So for me, it works. Moment to moment.
But what power can a gratitude journal have? Well, I recently watched the documentary Happy where the neurologists found that people who keep a gratitude journal are happier people because…wait for it…they have trained their minds to find things to be grateful for.
I keep a gratitude journal - bullet-point style and I aim for tiny, tangible things, like: perfect latte art, hug from partner, no traffic to work, feather that made me think of a loved one, and a great client session. I aim for 5 things a day.
Some days I struggle for five — and here is where the brain-functioning gets fascinating — when I am thinking of my five things, my brain is literally calling out an “all-hands-on-deck” moment to my memories for the day:
“Does anybody have anything we can give Kate to write down for number five?”
The mind continues to skry for information - it wants to please the request. The more you place the request for moments of gratitude, you literally train the mind to look for things to be grateful for, even if only under the guise of writing in your journal at the end of the day ( Personal tip: I enjoy re-visiting yesterday’s grace over my morning cup of coffee as a peaceful way to write my mind into place). The more you look for things to be grateful for, the more you find. The more you find reasons to be grateful, the more grateful you feel. Your mind is a puppy-pleasing entity that wants to complete tasks that will merit a reward.
What have you trained your mind to retrieve?
Consider taking on a gratitude practice and see what you find.
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