Your mind is a garden, your thoughts are the seeds. You can grow flowers, or you can grow weeds.
Most of us are under a great deal of stress. We experience pressure to do well on our school assignments and tests, to be a great athlete and win the big game, all while meeting the expectations of friends and family. This overload of stress can show up as anxiety, sadness, anger, fear, and other negative emotions.
The Bad News
Our brains are plastic (molded by our thoughts), so the more we experience stressors and negative thoughts, the more those thoughts get carved deeper into our brains neural pathways. The deeper these neural pathways get, the more it becomes a habit to sustain these negative thought patterns or patterns of stress.
If that isn’t enough, our Amygdala’s see stress as a threat. The Amygdala is responsible for activating our Fight/Flight/Freeze response to stress and keeps us focused on the potential threats and in the pattern of looking for and reacting to negative patterns.
The Good News
Gratitude can help you stop the cycle of stress and negative thought patterns. By focusing on what you grateful for and what brings you joy, calms the Amygdala and in the long-term our brains become trained to recognize the positive things in our life. Our neural pathways deepen around joyfulness and positivity, bringing about habits that sustain positive experiences and reduce patterns of stress.
Begin to Shift Your Focus
- On a piece of paper, create 3 columns and label them with the following: people, places, things.
- Write down everything you are grateful for in each of these columns.
- Take it a step further by reaching out to the people you are grateful for and expressing gratitude, or
- Write a letter to the management or a positive review on a social site for a place you are grateful for.