February 9, 2016

TrishBits #19: Say, “Thank you”

Cultivating gratitude is like turning off the ‘grumpy’ switch in your brain.

Say, 'Thank you.' It's like turning off the grump switch in your brain. -Trish Ring, Ph.D.

When you reach the end of your rope – the forecast says 6 inches and your ceiling is leaking, or your kids have taken whining to the next decibel, or the colleague you were counting on drops the ball – try this beautiful, elegant, counter-intuitive gem of a solution: Start listing what you’re grateful for.

I mean it. It may make you think of a silly ‘attitude of gratitude’ wall plaque that you saw on the bulletin board in 4th grade…. But that plaque was worth its weight in gold.

The research on this is abundantly clear: The act of searching through your thoughts for the things that you are grateful for – just searching, not even necessarily finding them – actually activates the area of your brain that feels grateful. And feeling grateful does not co-exist with murderous rage….

Feeling grateful is calming. It’s centering. It turns big problems into manageable ones. It makes for less drama. It lays the groundwork for lasting happiness.

Try it: Keep a list of things you’re grateful for on a daily basis. Jot them in a journal, or start a note on your smartphone. The next time you’re ready to complain or start an argument, go to your note, instead. Read your list. Add to it. Then, go solve the next (minor) problem.

As your 4th grade teacher likely said, “Remember your manners, and say, ‘Thank you.’”

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