When I was 18, a wise friend gifted me a unique tool. It transformed my perception of the world.
I received a simple, leather journal. Its purpose? To encourage me to spend 5 minutes every night writing down all of that day’s blessings. I found and continue to find this daily practice so grounding. Here’s why.
Improve Your Brain State
When you focus on gratitude, it levels up your mind and pulls it out of a lower brain state.
Those who frequently hang out in lower brain states are more anxious, stressed, depressed, angry, fearful, and socially disconnected. The brain is focused on overcoming the current real or perceived stresses and threats. It’s in survival mode. Therefore, if you are in this brain state, you will struggle to think past the here and now.
When in a higher brain state, a person is calm, joyful, and better able to plan for the future. Consequently, you will be a much more productive worker and a more pleasant person to be around. You, your co-workers, and your boss all benefit when you prioritize brain health!
An Attitude of Gratitude
Daily gratitude journalling is an easy and free way to pull yourself out of that harmful, lower brain state. When the brain is focused on the positive, it can’t stay locked in negative thought patterns.
You actually probably knew that already, but you didn’t apply the knowledge to yourself. When you’re dealing with an upset, hysterical toddler, you try to distract them with pleasant thoughts. Provided they can hear you over their woeful wailing, it works!
Action Steps to Uplift Your Brain
#1. Journal daily.
Every night spend 5 minutes writing down everything for which you are grateful. Reflect on the unique blessings of that day and the basic necessities you might take for granted. You have a roof over your head and food on the table. Many in the world are not as fortunate. If you need a real wake up call, go do charitable work in a third world country. It will radically change your life.
By journaling before going to bed, you end the day in a higher brain state. This will help improve sleep quality. The brain needs ample serotonin (the happy neurotransmitter) to fall into deep, restful sleep. Your new gratitude practice will support healthy levels of serotonin.
#2. Be positive.
Eradicate negativity from your conversations with others (and with yourself). Surround yourself with uplifting people, animals, nature, music, and media.
#3. Focus on others.
Reach out to others with a smile, a compliment, an act of charity, a phone call, or a letter or email. This act of kindness will distract your brain by taking the focus away from your particular struggles. Plus, it’s just good to spread the love.