What does ‘Practising Gratitude’ even mean?

Apparently we have a gratitude circuit in the brain

Alex Corb, neuroscientist and author of ‘The Upward Spiral’, claims that we have a gratitude circuit in our brains that, when we activate it, improves our mood and our health. Studies suggest that it boosts serotonin production which can stimulate focus on positive aspects of life.

It seems that when we have a more developed ‘grateful state of mind’, our general happiness level is boosted, our sleep is boosted, and we even feel a greater state of connection to other people.

Is it just ‘therapy speak’ or does it really work?

Well, it’s not a new idea and has often been associated with mindfulness meditation and, when you stop and think about it, it has a logic behind it.

When someone does something nice for us and we feel really grateful and appreciative of it, it does put us in a better mood. And when we are in a good mood it is actually easier to reconnect to previously-experienced positive emotions and also to engage with other optimistic thoughts and events.

Gratitude is not only good for us; it’s good for others too

When we show our appreciation to someone else for something that they’ve done, it is likely to please them and put them in a good mood too even if the effect is only fleeting.

I’m not just talking about being polite, although let’s face it, politeness isn’t a bad thing!

Politeness is perhaps more superficial. What I’m talking about is developing a genuinely grateful frame of mind that can actively stimulate the production of dopamine, a chemical which is released during pleasurable activities and which can motivate us to seek more pleasurable activities.

Why don’t you try it and see?

In my hypnotherapy practice in S E London I have long been suggesting the following simple activity to people who are a bit depressed and / or anxious. It certainly seems to have a positive effect. I also do it myself and I can vouch for its effectiveness.

Here’s a simple activity that over time can lift your mood and have surprisingly positive effects

When you go to bed at night make yourself comfortable and allow your mind to focus on something or someone that you are genuinely grateful to have in your life.

It doesn’t have to be a big thing … although of course it can be. And spend a minute or two dwelling on all the positive aspects of it can be something as basic as thinking about the fact that you have a warm comfortable bed to sleep in … even that you have a home to live in.

Or it could be thinking about having a person or an animal in your life that you really love, or a job that you enjoy, or on something that somebody else did for you that you really appreciated.

Corb points out that even if there are negative aspects of a topic you can deliberately place your focus on one or two positive aspects lurking around inside!

I always suggest to people that they think of three things in turn but you can choose to do it with just one to start with of course!

Rather than assuming that just one instance of doing this will produce an amazing turn around overnight, remember that it is regular practice is what gets results!

How about you commit to it from now until next week and read more about it in next week’s blog?

There may also be ‘a freebie’ for you to listen to as well so please join me next week!

For lifting your spirits and feeling generally more positive and optimistic, read the description and listen to the sample of ‘Come up from depression’ here