Gratitude a Side Effect of Mindfulness?

While studying with Mindful Schools of California I learned that there are nine aspects of well-being that are developed through pre-frontal cortex stimulation like that which occurs during mindfulness meditation practices. The 10th is thought to be gratitude!

Essentially when you get focused, relax, and allow your mind to be at ease you have access to higher levels of thinking as you are utilizing the pre-frontal cortex. Walking around stressed, overwhelmed, and in fight, flight, or freeze keeps you stuck in a reactive mode and using the part of your brain referred to as the amydala. Simple mindfulness techniques train your brain to not be reactive and then when functioning at these higher levels of thinking gratitude begins to happen naturally.

Even daily life proves this. Think about a time you sat in nature and felt the warm sun or smelled the fresh air. You slowed down and noticed what was going on around you and it felt good, right? How about a time when you watched a child playing and laughing? The innocent playfulness had your attention and it amused you. You naturally slowed down and noticed what was going on in the moment and you may have felt joy, peace, and part of what you felt is gratitude.

“Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.”
Zig Ziglar

You can also rewire your brain by practicing gratitude. Gratitude requires a shift in perception. When you change your thoughts and your emotions you change your brain. Gratitude practices give you a shot of dopamine and of serotonin, the feel good neurotransmitters. Regular practice leads to naturally feeling more grateful because simply stated, neurons that fire together wire together.

It’s really just a choice to change your perception. To take your attention and choose to focus it on something good, that is gratitude.

There are countless articles exploring the science and benefits of gratitude. Here is one of my favorites:

According to the International Journal of Workplace Health Management (Vol. 2 Iss:3, pp.202-219) “Virtues, Work Satisfactions, and Psychological Well-being Among Nurses.”Gratitude was found to be a consistent predictor of the following: less exhaustion and less cynicism, more pro-active behaviors, higher rating of the health and safety climate, higher job satisfaction, and fewer absences due to illness.

At its simplest gratitude creates joy and that should be enough reason to practice. Personally I don’t do well with gratitude lists so here are a few new ideas for you:

  1. Get a buddy. Ask someone to listen to you be grateful each day. Writing or verbally are both fine. This isn’t just about accountability. I have never met anyone who did not want to be validated. When you allow someone to witness your experiences it insures what you are doing feels purposeful and meaningful.
  2. Start a Joy Jar. Get a basket or canning jar as well as cut up paper or sticky notes and a pen. Place them somewhere at work or home where you will see them regularly. Anytime you have an experience that brings you joy write it down and put it in the jar. Every week or every month reread everything. You will be amazed at what you forgot and at how much you have to be grateful for each day.
  3. Be of service. Volunteer for a cause that matters to you. Become a domestic violence advocate, knit blankets for cancer patients, feed the homeless, mow the neighbor’s yard, bake cookies for the neighborhood kids, or anything that uses your passions and skills for good.

Thank you for reading!

Amy McCae

Free Phone Consult

Certified Life Coach and Mindfulness Meditation Teacher

Amy specializes in helping leaders overcome self-doubt and overwhelm so they can have clarity, confidence, and peace of mind for better health, relationships, and success. She offers Mindfulness Matters an accredited online course with or without Life Coaching to individuals and corporations. Amy also offers Life Coaching packages, classes, presentations, and seminars as well as several types of energetic healing.

FREE WEBINAR: How to use Mindfulness Techniques to Reduce Overwhelm

Mindfulness Matters is an accredited, neuroscience based, emotional intelligence program created for developing visionary and conscious leaders. Many leaders struggle with self-doubt and overwhelm. This course insures you gain clarity, confidence, success, and will even help improve your relationships and health!!

Amy spent her childhood dreaming of being a doctor only to watch her mother die of cancer when she was 20. Her life took an entirely different direction after that and she spent much of her 20’s sick with chronic illnesses.

One day Amy was too sick to take care of her newborn baby and she had to crawl to the phone to call for help. Amy then went on a quest to heal and looked in places she never knew existed before that day. AND she healed largely through fitness, nutrition, and meditation.

Through that experience Amy rediscovered a passion for helping others. She is committed to excellence and to making a difference in the world.

Contact Amy today!!!