The first thing I do on waking is express gratitude. At the very least, I am grateful to have woken up alive. As Marcus Aurelius more eloquently put it, “Think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.”
Consider for what and whom are you grateful today. If you want to take it further, consider who can you reach out to and serve or thank today. Cultivate an attitude of gratitude !
A 2017 study at Berkeley, with subjects who reported clinically low levels of mental health at the time, found that those who wrote one letter of gratitude to another person each week for three weeks reported significantly better mental health four weeks and twelve weeks after the writing exercise ended, whether they sent the letters or not. Their results also indicated the following :
- Gratitude unshackles us from toxic emotions
- Gratitude helps even if you do not share it
- The benefits of gratitude take time
- Gratitude has lasting positive effects on the brain
The point was made a number of times during the Tony Robbins Unleash the Power Within virtual event over the weekend, that you cannot feel angry at the same time as expressing gratitude.
A regular practice of gratitude will harness your brain’s value-tagging system and make positive achievements and happy thoughts easier to recall in the future.
As I said in my note on Self-Esteem, a regular gratitude practice with journaling can help you stay focused on the positive and is especially helpful when negative thoughts and feelings threaten to overwhelm you. Attack is the best form of defence, and with gratitude you can start attacking the possibility of negative thoughts and feelings from the moment you wake up, until, suddenly, they are not even a possibility any more. Fostering an attitude of gratitude primes you for an abundant state.
After just a few weeks of doing the practice, you will notice significant changes in your focus, energy, and positivity all day long. It is interesting to note that when the Berkeley study said the benefits of gratitude take time, they meant it might take weeks rather than being an immediate change. Only weeks. And that was in respect of a weekly action. Imagine how you can accelerate that with a daily action.
And while you can keep these feelings of gratitude going as you turn on your classical music and make your green tea, just a few seconds before your head has even left the pillow in the morning will go a long way.