Gratitude has a positive effect on your brain’s health and your sense of well-being. When you think a positive thought your brain releases chemicals that produce a good feeling inside you. Amazingly, this is true the first time you have the experience as well as anytime you call the memory to mind and experience it with all 5 senses. Look around your memory and notice what you see, what you hear, textures you feel, scents you smell and what you taste. Do this for 3-5 minutes (set the timer on your phone).
Last weekend I attended a family birthday celebration. My husband, kids and their spouses went to City Barbeque for supper (yum). Then we went to Graeter’s Ice Cream shop for dessert which was conveniently located next door. I like ice cream so much! In fact, right now I can close my eyes and picture my loved ones at the table with me, the inside of the shop and the little bowl of Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip ice cream. The taste was smooth, creamy and sweet. At one point I blurted out, “Ice cream makes me happy!” I can remember the sounds of our conversation and laughter. The weather was chilly outside, but the shop’s temperature was comfortably warm. I am grateful for the time I spent with my family and grateful for the invention of ice cream. I am grateful for my vehicle that allowed me to have this experience. I received the benefits of social interaction and joy in the moment and now I have a memory that is packed with gratitude that I can bring to mind which produces more positive chemicals for my brain.
Here is an exercise you can experiment with for one week. At the end of the day write three things you are grateful for in a notebook or journal. Do not write out the details, just give each item a short title.As you are falling asleep bring one of the items from your Grateful Journal to mind and replay it. Remember how each of your 5 senses experienced the event as you drift off to sleep.
So my Gratitude Journal entry would look like this:
- Birthday dinner with family
- Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip ice cream
- My vehicle