Where your attention goes, the energy grows.
Here is a wow fact, your brain will believe your thoughts. In other words, you get what you concentrate on.
Science confirms that your mind makes no distinction between what is imagined and what is real. The mind and body are not separate - our thoughts have remarkable control over our bodies. I mean, even Gandhi said:
“A man is but the product of his thoughts, what he thinks, he becomes”.
Try this, just think about this lemon for a few seconds, go ahead and imagine how it tastes like! Feel free to even lick it in your mind's eyes.
Great, now - have you noticed extra saliva in your mouth?
What just happened? Thinking about this lemon caused your brain to release neurotransmitters - chemical messengers that allow your brain to communicate with your whole nervous system. You stimulated a physical/ tangible reaction with a thought alone. An imaginary lemon.
Yes, let's say that again - your brain will believe your thoughts – and that is why it's so important to be more intentional about our attention, our focus, our thoughts and how they impact our feelings and behaviours. Our inner interpretations of events/ people, our inner judgments, assumptions, worries, complaints, criticism - the so-called negative thinking traps, have a real destructive power over our lives.
Our thoughts can literally make us ill. But, if they can make us ill, they can also make us well; if they have the power to limit us, they can also empower us.
Your brain makes no distinction between what is imagined and what is real.
Neuroscience confirms that over time, habitual thinking patterns (positive or negative) become physical neural traits in your brain. Hold on, did Grandi's quote suddenly make sense? 😳
The way I see this is that if you get stressed out often about every little thing, your brain is going to forge and strengthen connections making it reactive and anxious. If you expect the worst in all situations, you’re reinforcing this kind of thinking in your brain every time you engage in it.
As a result, the negative thought patterns in which you routinely engage become the default PATHWAYS for your BRAIN. These are the strings that tie you down and limit your life, and your brain ends up perpetuating in a continual feedback loop.
Let's make it even more real - this is what your physical neural traits, your default pathways look like under the microscope. No joke, these are real neural pathways representing your thought patterns AND the best news you will read in this article is that those neural pathways are not fixed!
The brain studies confirm that these neural pathways can be changed and that in a nutshell is what we refer to as neuroplasticity.
I could go into more details here but the best way to summarise the essence of neuroplasticity is to say that statements like - "This is just me, I have always been this way, That's just who I'm and I can't change" - have gone out of date. We CAN change the way we think, perceive things, feel and behave.
Ok, so if the energy grows where the attention goes - where do we want to channel our energy?
Catch yourself next time you identify a negative pattern of thought. Pay attention to the words you use, the statements you make, the complaints you produce, the worries you verbalise.
Especially in the environments around people who trigger negative thinking in you. Start paying attention – start hearing the negative chatter in you. Start identifying your negative thinking traps. Here are some examples of what they may sound like in your head:
Black and white thinking:
“I’ can’t even do this. I never do anything right.”
“They think I’m boring. I know they have better things to do than hang out with me.”
“There’s no point in even trying. I know I’m not going to get the job anyway.”
“This relationship didn’t work out. I’m never going to meet someone.”
Disqualifying the positive:
“I may be a decent mother, but anybody can do that.”
“My friend hasn’t replied to my text in 3 hours. She hates me. Nobody likes me.”
“I have to get straight As. Nothing less is good enough.”
“I can’t believe I said that. I’m such an idiot.”
“The boss looks mad. It must be something I did wrong.”
“Since I can’t pay this bill, my credit rating will go down the tubes and I’ll lose the house.”
"I have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened" - Mark Twain
Introduce gratitude practice into your life - the most accessible and free resource out there!
After extensive research, it has been proven by scientists that regular gratitude improves both physical and psychological health. How amazing is it to think that something so simple as being thankful can massively improve your health?
It is said that when we choose to consistently and consciously practise daily gratitude, this produces neurotransmitters such as dopamine which helps to brighten the mind, helping us to think more positively and reduce stress in the long term. Not only that but practising gratitude can reduce any toxic emotions you may have and eventually eliminate them completely.
A 2003 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that gratitude was a major contributor to resilience following the terrorist attacks on September 11. Being able to recognise everything you can be thankful for — especially during the worst times—fosters resilience.
"At times, our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us have cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lightened the flame within us." - Albert Schweitzer
How can you cultivate gratitude practice every-day?
Research proves that journaling is one of the most popular, and effective, ways to cultivate gratitude. Journals give you the ability to visualise what you are grateful for - through writing these down and appreciating the good in your life. Here are some ideas:
Morning gratitude prayer/ meditation (before you start your day, vocalise 10 things you are grateful for, big or small).
What I’m learning from my challenges (list 3 challenging situations, people or other obstacles and what good thing you are learning from these challenges).
People I’m thankful for (list 5 people who made your life a little happier today, brought joy, inspiration, hope - they could be friends, family or even strangers).
The best moment of my day (choose one moment of your day that made you happy and focus on it for 5 minutes before you go to sleep).
If you are interested in buying a Gratitude Journal that is already set up and ready to go, here are some recommendations:
Joy - Wellness Journal
Intelligent Change: The Five Minute Journal - Daily Gratitude Journal for Happiness, Mindfulness, and Reflection - Undated Life Planner
The One-Minute Gratitude Journal
Even Happier: A Gratitude Journal for Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment
Start With Gratitude: Daily Gratitude Journal
The 5-Minute Gratitude Journal: Give Thanks, Practice Positivity, Find Joy
Some other ideas you could adopt into your life to help you practice gratitude:
Keep a Gratitude Jar.
It can be an old jam jar - make it stand out, decorate with with joy. Place the jar in a visible place that you are likely to pass daily and then, anytime you are feeling thankful, take a moment to write down what that may be on a piece of paper and pop it in the jar. Having a visual representation of how much you have to be grateful will help to enhance happiness and fulfilment.
“Gratitude turns what we have into enough.”
Set a Gratitude Alarm.
Morning gratitude alarm can help you remember to channel your attention and energy towards things you are thankful before you start your day! I love practicing gratitude in the morning, it truly sets the right tone and energy for the rest of the day.
Give gratitude & appreciation to others.
Remember to express gratitude and appreciation directly to your friends, colleagues and loved ones every day! This can be done in person, through a quick phone call, by sending them a message or email. Take time to describe in detail what they have done for you and exactly how it impacted your life.
I can promise you the rewards and gratification you will feel from the daily practice of gratitude will transform your life and re-wire your brain in a much more positive, empowering and light way. You have all the tools in front of you to get started, so now is your chance.
To sum up, the meaning of gratitude is the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for, and to return kindness. Gratitude can also mean being open and aware of all good things that are happening to you and ensuring you are not taking them for granted. Be sure to live in the present and appreciate the life you are living.
Gratefulness is something that is heartfelt.
Remember that effective mind regulation requires awareness. When we are aware of our experience, we observe ourselves as we experience life. This creates the possibility of choice.
AWARENESS –> CHOICE –> RESPONSIBILITY
You are no longer controlled by your thoughts, with growing awareness and conscious choice you are now in control.