The fall is a wondrous time of year, beckoning us to take time to pause and wander through the magnificent trails in our neighbourhoods. The season reminds us through the vibrant, cascading leaves of the beauty that can come from surrendering and letting go.
As we get ready for the wrap up of another year and prepare to winterize, we could use this time to reflect and sit in gratitude for what has transpired. We can be grateful for our experiences, our health, people, places and things in our lives that instill a sense of appreciation, bring a sense of contentment and make us thankful and open the door for more gratitude in our lives.
When we walk in gratitude, everything changes. This is because the emotion of gratitude helps to rewire our brain. Our brains are wired to look for the negative. This is part of our built-in survival instincts. However, a Huffington post study showed that our brain in positive mode is actually 31% more productive than when we are in negative mode, neutral or stressed.
As our hearts convey a sense of appreciation and our brains receive simple ‘thank you’ messages, we can train our brain to look for and cultivate more things to be grateful for and acknowledge the goodness in our lives.
Gratitude is a powerful human emotion. There are physical, psychological and social benefits of adopting an attitude of gratitude.
Physically when we are grateful, it enhances our dopamine and serotonin (feel good neurotransmitters), improves our immune system, regulates our stress hormones, helps us feel less pain (16% of the patients who kept a gratitude journal reported reduced pain symptoms), reduces our blood pressure and helps us to get deeper and healthier sleep.
Psychologically, when we express or feel gratitude, it enhances our mood and
increases self-satisfaction and emotional awareness. This results in social benefits as well.
As we express gratitude to others, it makes us more empathetic, which helps build and sustain strong interpersonal bonds and relationships.
How do we make space for more gratitude in our lives? We can start with becoming more observant and stay attentive to affirm and acknowledge the good that comes across our daily path. Notice the good things. Actively look for them and appreciate them as we go about our day. Small and large things that we can savour, absorb and pay attention to.
Take notice of something in nature, an object of beauty, a pleasant conversation with a friend, a good cup of tea or helping someone.
Recording positive experiences and expressing our gratitude boosts levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness, and energy. It rewires our brain for to keep an eye out for the positives. Building a ritual of writing them down at the end of our day helps us to capture and savour the good, review and revisit the things or events that we
are thankful for.
We can communicate our appreciation verbally to others, or write the
moments, events, things that brought us enjoyment.
The practise of keeping a gratitude list or journal helps us not only to record the experiences we are grateful for but also keeps us on high alert to scan for things to be
grateful for throughout the day so we can capture them at the end of our day. This
triggers the positive feedback loop in our brains and helps develop pro-active coping skills that support us in times of stress. Spend at least 10-15 minutes to revisit your days’ gratitude experiences and write 5 to 10 things that you give thanks for.
There are many things to be grateful for, such as art, music, poetry, community
connections, flowers, time shared with a friend, time in nature, watching sunrise or sunset, listening to birds, spending time by water. Lofty things, big and small. One thing we can all be grateful for is for having the wide array of art, wellness, conservation, and education programs that are available at Joshua Creek Heritage Arts Centre. Increase your gratitude quotient and sign up for our upcoming programs.
Check out the website or drop in during our gallery hours Tuesdays through Sunday 1pm – 4pm.You will be thankful you did!