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5 Real Reasons to Flip the Switch and Flex Your Gratitude Muscle

by Alex Phillips January 19, 2018 3 min read

5 Real Reasons to Flip the Switch and Flex Your Gratitude Muscle

Nobody ever wakes up saying they want to have a bad day. We don’t search for ways to be angry or sad or depressed. We search for happiness. Literally. The phrase “how to be happy” is searched almost 100,000 times per month.


We all want to be happy but we buy into this myth that our pot of gold (our happiness) is at the end of the rainbow and we’ll finally be able to collect this elusive prize once all the pieces in our life have fallen into their rightful place. The promotion. The House. The Ring.


In this aggressive pursuit for happiness, we remain oblivious to the fact that we can choose to be happy. We are so focused on controlling external circumstances and making them “right” that we often dismiss or downgrade the things in our life that are actually pretty awesome. Instead, we allow our negativity bias to dilute our triumphs, our progress and the moments of bliss we live for.


The fact that happiness is a choice should empower us. When we flex our gratitude muscle and start reflecting on the things (big and small) that we are genuinely thankful for (I’m currently grateful for not being allergic to any foods), we discover an inner source of happiness which unravels a whole new perspective and flow of energy. Bottom line: it’s like a powerfood for our mind, body and soul.


A daily gratitude ritual is one of the easiest ways to start experiencing the good-feels we all yearn for and turn down the volume on the not-so-good-feels. Here are four scientifically-backed reasons to start practising gratitude regularly.


Push your stress levels down

 

The free and all-natural chill pill exists. The simple act of expressing gratitude naturally flips your perspective, allowing you to cast a spotlight on the positive aspects of your life, instead of fixating on the factors that are increasing your blood pressure. You’ll actually be able to feel the tension lines in your forehead loosen as your thoughts shift from negative to positive and levels of dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin subsequently surge.


Boost your mental strength reserves  


An attitude of gratitude provides you with mental strength, stamina and resilience - the fundamentals for overcoming the inevitable hurdles of life and rising above the pain. Being grateful, especially during the toughest circumstances, ensures that you don’t lose your spirit in a toxic fog of negative feelings. It reminds you that there is still good in this world.


Strengthen your connection with people


Gratitude has the potential to improve your relationships with others. It’s a powerful form of recognition - something that we all crave. When you acknowledge that someone has done something meaningful for you and display genuine appreciation for it, it not only activates the warm and fuzzies, it reinforces generous social behaviour amongst those who witness it.


Gratitude rewards generosity and maintains the cycle of healthy social behaviour. – Antonia Damasia


Remove your sense of entitlement


Unfulfilled expectations motivate feelings of resentment and bitterness. Taking the time to count your blessing helps you to dissolve your sense of entitlement when things don’t go to plan. Viewing the word from a place of gratitude allows you to appreciate the little things, instead of skimming right past it because it was “expected.”


Tip: consistency is key


Thanks to the human negativity bias, we are hardwired to prioritise negative emotions, experiences and events. While this was an effective way to avoid predators when we were hunters and gatherers, it doesn’t serve us well today. Fortunately, there are steps that we can take to minimise it.


Just like a solid gym workout can tone your physique, a daily gratitude ritual can tone the muscles in your mind, allowing your brain to tune in to the positive things in the world and actually hold on to those good-feels. According to Rick Hanson, focusing intently on an experience for 20 seconds is long enough to create positive structural changes in the brain. (Thank you, Science!)


Flip the switch

 

Quit trying tofindhappiness externally. Your source of happiness is located in your internal switchboard. Practising gratitude is a powerful way to rewire your brain so that you can flip the switch and see the world through a brighter lens. It’s so easy to lapse into a negative mindset so training your brain to fluidly transition into a healthier headspace if and when you need to is crucial for your emotional and mental wellbeing.


We know that incorporating anything new into your routine can be difficult, so we’re suggesting that you start off small.


Your Cue #2: Take a few moments to write down three things that you’re grateful for everyday this week


Let us know how you go flipping the switch!

Alex Phillips
Alex Phillips

Alex is the Co-Founder of Saint Belford and a strong mental health advocate. You'll often find her on the yoga mat, rummaging around the kitchen contemplating her next meal or planning her next world adventure.