Excerpt from my November 2013 Capital City Hues column.
Not to long ago I had weeks of what seemed like multiple projects and deadlines coming due at same time in my both my professional and business lives. Therefore I missed seeing my three grandchildren for a couple of weeks. The youngest is 18 months old, he and I had been practicing saying the word Nana, which is what my grandchildren call me. He could say the word but he did not call me Nana. After what seemed like an eternity I went by their house and he met me at the door. He pointed at me, yelled out NANA and with the biggest grin ever he started doing a little dance while clapping he hands. Next, he grabbed my hand to follow him. As I followed I looked at my daughter and said, “You don’t get a greeting like this everyday.” I felt so loved, appreciated, happy, thankful, and so on. I felt a flood of positive emotions.
How would you feel, if every night after work, you were greeted by a family member who welcomed you with the exuberance displayed by my grandson? Happy? Loved? Glad to be home? The answer to this question gives you an inkling of the power of gratitude. But does giving or receiving thanks offer only immediate rewards, or does gratitude have far reaching benefits? What if you could live everyday feeling an abiding sense of gratitude — no matter what? Would that have any effect on your life?
This isn’t some etheric, touchy-feely self-help exercise. Some of this effect can be measured biochemically, while other aspects of it are currently beyond scientific measurement. But the bottom line is irrefutable: Expressing gratitude initiates a powerful healing effect in your own mind and body
Why does this work?
Current research on Buddhist monks brains shows that when we think positive thoughts, gratitude, kindness, optimism, we activate our left pre-frontal cortex or our brains which in turn floods our bodies with feel-good hormones which in-turn lifts our mood in the short term and strengthens ours immune system in the long run.
Conversely when we think negative, angry, worried, hopeless pessimistic thoughts. we activate our right pre-frontal cortex and flood our body with stress hormones. In other words we are bathing our bodies/minds and spirit in good or bad chemicals depending on our thoughts.
Gratitude is magic, because it is one the only totally free, unbelievably simple ways to experience a sense of well-being and contentment on an on going basis. It is so easy that many of us still want to discount it as simplistic or want to complicate it somehow. “The single greatest thing you can do to change your life today would be to start being grateful for what you have right now. And the more grateful you are, the more you get.” says Oprah.
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