“Gratitude is one of the sweet shortcuts to finding peace of mind and happiness inside. No matter what is going on outside of us, there’s always something we could be grateful for.”
-Barry Neil Kaufman
Point to Ponder:
Are there things around you can be more grateful for that you might normally take for granted?
Do you know that there are only seven and a half weeks — that’s seven Saturdays and fifty-two days — until Christmas? (and I included both Thanksgiving day and Christmas Eve). So, take those days away and realistically we only have fifty days until Christmas. How does that make you feel? If you’re like me, it doesn’t give you the warm fuzzies that it should. Instead, it makes me tense up and think about how I turn into a consumer zombie and spend way too much money on unnecessary things, which in turn gives me the creepy crawlies. But wait, all of this is avoidable, right? Absolutely! I’m going to do it different this year and it’s going to start now, by counting down the days to Thanksgiving — which is actually my favorite holiday (besides Daylight Savings Time when we gain an hour of sleep…technically not a holiday, but I LOVE it!).
What I love so much about Thanksgiving is that it’s simple. Granted, I’ve never had to prepare a Thanksgiving meal, so that’s easy for me to say, but Thanksgiving for my family revolves around the 3 F’s: family, food, and football. We don’t have to travel far, there’s no gift giving, and we just spend time with one another. And, more simple than the Thanksgiving holiday is how our life can make a 180 degree turn for the better when we take the time each day to recognize and show appreciation towards one thing that we are grateful for.
In an interesting article in Psychology Today called “The Grateful Brain“, Dr. Alex Korb sites four scientific studies proving that expressing and showing gratitude towards anything activates brain regions associated with the feel-good neurotransmitter, dopamine. Fascinatingly, “once you start recognizing the things you are grateful for, your brain starts looking for more things to be grateful for.” And, even more extraordinary, “in a study from the National Institute of Health, researchers examined blood flow in various brain regions while subjects summoned up feelings of gratitude (ZAHN etal, 2009). They found that subjects who showed more gratitude overall had higher levels of activity in the hypothalamus. This is important because the hypothalamus controls a huge array of essential bodily functions, including eating, drinking and sleeping. It also has a huge influence on your metabolism and stress levels. Dr. Korb states that this brain activity evidence makes it clear how improvements in gratitude could have such wide-ranging effects from increased exercise, and improved sleep to decreased depression and fewer aches and pains.“
There’s no denying that gratitude is a life-improving game changer, which is why I am proposing you join iGnite in our #gratefulgram challenge during the month of November. Starting today and throughout the month of November, I invite you to join me in taking photos (each day if possible) of the things you are grateful for and posting them on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or your social media outlet/outlets of choice with the hastag #gratefulgram and also tagging iGnite’s social media profile. I encourage you to not over-think what you are grateful for. You having gratitude for your car starting in the morning is equally as great and wonderful as posting a photo of your family. According to Dr. Alex Korb, gratitude is gratitude and regardless of what you have gratitude for, it all counts. You can check out my Instagram account and Facebook profile to get a visual of how simple it can be. And, for those of you who participate, you will be entered into a prize drawing for iGnite to donate $50 in your name to the charity or non-profit you are most grateful for (just be sure and tag iGnite and #gratefulgram to enter)!
Above is a picture I took while attending last Friday’s sunrise Core & Stretch on the Texas Rowing Center’s dock, for which I was and continue to be grateful for. What I love about being able to capture our blessings is that they make us more aware of how abundantly blessed we really are and in turn improves our overall quality of life. And overt gratitude has the opportunity to improve the overall quality of someone else’s life! Gratitude changes everything and that’s the warm fuzzies I’m talking about!
Watch this week’s inspiring video (below), and throughout the month of November take one picture each day of something you are grateful for and post it on your social media outlet/outlets of choice.
I know, I know. It’s another Oprah video, but I promise it’s totally relevant. We need to just make Oprah an honorary member 🙂 She’s sooo iGnite!