If we default to mainstream culture to shape our outlook on life, we could easily fill our consciousness with political drama, news of catastrophes around the world and risqué music videos.
One particular study by Professor Graham Davey Ph.D., has shown that flooding our consciousness with negative news not only lowers our current mood but also increases the likelihood to catastrophize (worry) about future possibilities over the long-term.
Add to this our tendency to think negative or neutral thoughts more than positive-- also known as our negativity bias-- and upon a very brief examination, it becomes clear why we must not leave our inner states to chance. Especially if we are committed to living a life of joy, happiness, peace, and ultimately… excellence.
Cultivating an inner attitude of harmony is an art and a science. It can be easy, and I’ve also found that it takes practice.
Gratitude practices have been shown to improve mood (2) and to even enhance performance. The Heart-Math Institute has identified that an individual experiencing Heart Coherence, which can be accessed through a very simple practice of gratitude here: https://bit.ly/1QJoJlo, actually improves cognitive function.
See below for 3 quick tips for cultivating gratitude in your life:
1. CUT OUT: Reduce your exposure to negativity from outside sources. This includes excessive news media, gossiping and other negative forms of conversation with friends/acquaintances, and your own complaining.
These days, I am very careful about what I allow into my field, because I know that everything has an impact— everything makes a difference.
2. BE WITH: Acknowledge the great beauty that is already present in your life. Make a real effort to slow down and be with the beautiful flower on your walk, to notice a friend’s sweet smile, and to give thanks for a loving relationship. Speak about the things that you see and are grateful for so others can also join in on the celebration.
My father passed away earlier this year, and that very challenging experience has made me grateful for the simplest things. This life is so temporary. May we allow ourselves to be present with the beauty of it all-- and to enjoy it!
3. ADD IN: Bring practices into your life that help you cultivate a healthy and happy inner outlook. Give thanks with an attitude of gratitude. Add five minutes in the morning to your daily routine to think of the people, experiences and things you are grateful for. Practice the lovingkindness meditation.
These are just several of the ways that you can start bringing gratitude into your life. I would love to know which ones have worked for you! If you have any questions, feel free to reach out via PM.
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Studies highlighted in article:
1. Johnston, W. M., & Davey, G. C. (1997). The psychological impact of negative TV news bulletins: The catastrophizing of personal worries. British Journal of Psychology, 88(1), 85-91. doi:10.1111/j.2044-8295.1997.tb02622.x
2. Emmons, R. A., & Mccullough, M. E. (2003). Counting blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 84(2), 377-389. doi:10.1037//0022-35126.96.36.1997
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Photographer: Matt Roy