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Boosting the Brain with Thanks

November 23, 2018 by  
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Here’s a good question for you: Did you find yourself giving a lot of thanks yesterday? Or were you distracted by all the turkey, dressing and pumpkin pie? I hope you were taking time to give a ton of thanks! Isn’t that what we all should do on that day? After all it is called “Thanksgiving”! But that isn’t the only reason to give thanks this holiday season and throughout the year.

I recently heard on a broadcast that there is one big benefit we all can receive from saying “thanks” or “thank you”. Research into the human brain has shown that saying thank you, or otherwise giving verbal appreciation or gratitude, signals the brain to release the feel good, feel happy brain chemical dopamine.

Sometime ago, I wrote about how when a person smiles, even if it is a forced smile, the brain releases three of the four feel good brain chemicals – dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins (the forth brain chemical is oxytocin). These four chemicals, produced by the brain, not only make you feel more relaxed, they also could lower your blood pressure and your heart rate. Some studies even suggest that if they are released often enough, they can even help you live longer.

Another big benefit from giving thanks to others is that, if accompanied by a big sincere smile, your gesture will cause the other person to smile right back at you and then they are more likely to smile at the next person they encounter. So, you see, you are spreading some good stuff and helping others just by being thankful and letting other people know it.

And here’s another thing that has been shown to lift people’s spirits and that is simply to keep a journal in which you make note of the things you are thankful for. By writing down what, and who, you are grateful for, you are giving your brain more determination. This helps improve and lift your attention, enthusiasm and even lifts your energy.

So, during this holiday season, and beyond, we all need to focus on giving thanks, showing and expressing our gratitude, and, yes, even thinking about our positive qualities and of happy memories in order to boost our serotonin levels.

One last thought… don’t forget that laughing and social interaction both cause the brain to release those great feel good chemicals as well! So, this holiday season, be sure you have plenty of opportunities to boost those feel good chemicals and show your thanks and appreciation.

 

Commitment to Gratitude

May 13, 2011 by  
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As I look out at the world, especially in the incredible times we live in right now with all the turmoil, uprising, pointless deaths, instability and chaos in so many places in the world, and then look outside my door, it’s hard not to be a little shocked by how different my life is here in an affluent, developed country. Even some of the arguably most powerful men in the world do not live as well as many of us do here. Look at Bin Laden, found living in relative squalor until his demise.

When I see these things I am struck big time with the thought that, wow, we really do have it good, those of us living in the USA, Canada, Europe, etc. But how often, and seriously, do we consider how blessed we are?

I don’t know about you, but I am so very, very grateful for my life in a free country. My gratitude, however, goes way beyond the free country thing. I have to tell you, when i take time to be grateful (and i really need to do it more often), that very process and feeling of gratitude boosts my satisfaction, contentment, and happiness levels! It’s almost like magic.

So I’m thinking, this month, let’s start a habit of gratitude, hitting that button 2 or 3 times a day. Appreciating what we have will be good for our spirits, our attitude, our family, our outlook on life, and, by extension the world out there that is working through the chaos and pressure of broad and often, unstoppable, change. It’s the least we can do for them, and ourselves.

Keeping on Track During the Holiday Season

November 20, 2009 by  
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Next week is Thanksgiving. Soon after that there’s Christmas and then New Years. It’s that dreaded holiday time when we are faced with many a temptation and sticking to goals, especially healthy diets, is very difficult. It doesn’t take much to regain that hard won weight loss or bring your health down and it can be infinitely harder to get back to a where you want to be.

So for the next few weeks I thought I’d focus on healthy eating in this time of endless traps. Staying healthy is important to keeping up your energy and motivation in order to accomplish all the great things you have planned. So don’t let a little too much pumpkin pie spoil it for you.

Keep in mind, staying healthy during the holidays doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy yourself. In fact, you should go out there and celebrate with gusto. Just be discerning about what and how much you eat or drink. To do so, just follow a few simple rules:

–Go ahead and enjoy a rum ball or two but not too much. And don’t fall into the “I’ve already been bad, I might as well not worry about it now” mentality and overindulge or tell yourself you’ll do better after the holidays. Let yourself have the occasional treat then get back to your healthy diet.

–At the parties stay active to keep your metabolism up and keep you too busy to visit the buffet table. Dance, participate in all the games, wander the room, and mingle.

–Keep your eye on the big picture. Review your goals and what you want out of your life daily so it’s at the forefront of you mind when the cookies get passed around the office.

Use any other tricks you know to keep you on track for your specific health and diet goals. You can also read more about the importance of health and great things you can do to improve it in Chapter Ten of my book, How To Ignite Your Passion for Living.