Your Brain on Gratitude

 

Let's take a little breather. Think about one thing that you've accomplished today and how it made you feel. How about three good things that have happened to you this week? 

Now, think about something or someone who has made you smile in the last 24 hours. You may notice it's hard not to grin in the recollection! 

In the indefinite pursuit of more that we call life, how often do we stop and appreciate what we already have? In part 2 of our 3-part series on Taking Control of Your Energy, Chōsen Co-founder John Stanton explores gratitude as a powerful tool to elevate your mood and make a lasting positive shift to your daily life experience. 

Last week, we explored how to manage our energy levels by establishing a solid morning routine. When practiced consistently, a well-tuned morning routine that leverages your natural circadian rhythm and stress cycle will boost your energy level and joie de vivre! Let's call this "level one" in taking control of our energy. Are you ready to graduate to level two?

"Gratitude correlates to more vitality, energy, and enthusiasm. It partners with self-discipline and motivation to maximize our daily potential," says John. 

Here is a peek at how John puts it into practice. In addition to his neuro-designed morning routine, John builds "gratitude checks" into his schedule to take control of his energy levels when he knows they may dip. 

Gratitude Check #1 is part of that routine: Upon waking up, during his meditation and reflection, John writes about what he is grateful for and what he's looking forward to in the day. 

After a cold shower to boost his endorphins and a high-intensity workout to reconnect with his body, John purposefully delays his morning coffee until two hours after waking to maintain his energy level through the workday.

Gratitude Check #2: After a string of meetings, he adds another gratefulness check to realign with his purpose in a 5-minute journal reflection just after lunch. 

Gratitude Check #3: Late in the afternoon, John does one last check-in by reflecting on the good things that have happened that day both to 1) boost his mood and shift his perspective so that he is ready to engage with his loved ones and 2) make sure he gives himself credit for what he's accomplished that day. 

John is a gratitude enthusiast. He credits his gratitude practice as his core COVID-survival hack. 

Here are his top 3 favorite science-backed reasons for you to add gratefulness to your routine:

GRATITUDE AND REWIRING THE BRAIN

Practicing gratitude activates the reward center of our brains. When expressing or receiving appreciation, our brain releases dopamine and serotonin, making us feel good in the present moment.

This biochemical feedback mechanism has immediate, positive results on our mood and energy levels. What's more, it inherently supports long-term habit formation. Coupled with neuroplasticity - our brain's ability to rewire itself through reflecting on new experiences - we can then shift our daily life experience to be more positive and fulfilling. 

 "When you do gratitude checks, you reflect on your experiences as they happen. You get a rush of dopamine and serotonin to reinforce this positive habit, and with the help of your brain's neuroplasticity, you are rewiring your mind," adds John.

GRATITUDE HELPS YOU SLEEP BETTER

Studies show that when you receive and give simple acts of kindness, this activates the hypothalamus - a part of the brain responsible for all kinds of bodily functions, including sleep. Hypothalamic regulation triggered by gratitude helps us sleep better and wake up feeling more refreshed. 

GRATITUDE REDUCES STRESS LEVELS

When you feel grateful, your cortisol level drops. When influencing your autonomic nervous system this way, gratitude significantly reduces symptoms of depression and anxiety.

"Practicing gratitude makes an immediate impact on your life, and it does that with the help of your nervous system. It moves you from a fight-or-flight response into that blissful state of “rest-and-digest,” says John. 

By expressing and receiving gratitude, we feel happier, sleep better, and cultivate the skill to reframe our experience to handle stress better. 

We invite you to keep gratitude journals, use verbal expressions, or do quick gratitude checks three times a day (like John) to lead a more empathetic and joyous existence. 

For more information on how we can guide you to boost your wellbeing and increase resilience, join us on our 5-week online journey designed by our team of global performance experts composed of Gold Medal Olympians, Wellness Doctors, Nutritionists, Neuroscientists, and Business Leaders. You will learn the science behind resilience and set up new daily practices to bulletproof your wellbeing. CLICK HERE to enroll today.

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