There I was, standing in front of my fridge, looking for breakfast, when all of a sudden, I had a spontaneous thought that would change my outlook forever. And it was in that moment that I thought, “I’ve either lost my marbles or discovered something really powerful.” Check out the video to hear exactly what got me shook and why I started believing in the science of gratitude.
If you’ve been reading Dr. Allison Answers for a while, then you know I am a huge fan of gratitude. Gratitude is the practice of noticing and naming good stuff in your life, no matter how small it may seem.
Gratitude is an active process, because it takes work. Your brain is not built to notice and hold onto good stuff. When you let it go on autopilot, it will soak up the negative and completely dismiss the good. (See why it does that here.)
For this reason, we have to be intentional about directing our brain to see the good. Thankfully, gratitude is an easy and effective way to do just that.
Years ago, when I first read the research on gratitude, and the importance of developing a daily gratitude practice, I wasn’t really sold. It seemed too simple. But the research was solid, and that always convinces me. So I decided to give it a chance.
So I started the daily gratitude exercise that I’ve shared about before, naming three new things every day for which I’m grateful. For the first two weeks, the exercise took significant effort. I had to remind myself every day to stop and find three things from the day. Some days were easier than others. On rough days, I found myself struggling.
But then, about three weeks into my gratitude practice, something kind of wacky happened. I was standing in front of my refrigerator, scoping out what I was going to have for breakfast. As I’m looking up and down the shelves, I suddenly had the spontaneous thought, “Oh my goodness, I’m so grateful that I have this thing in my house that keeps my food fresh and ready for me.”
And as soon as I had the thought, I was like, “Wait, what? Did I just give thanks for my refrigerator?!” I’ve had a refrigerator my whole life, yet there I was, noticing it and being appreciative of it for the first time in thirty something years.
It was right then and there that I believed in the science of gratitude. I realized just how powerful a daily gratitude practice is and how dramatically it shapes our brains.
In the several weeks that I had been practicing gratitude, I was teaching my brain how to scan and see the good. Initially this practice was effortful, but with practice, it got easier, and my brain started to do it on it’s own. (Hence the standing in front of the fridge episode.)
This was my a-ha moment with gratitude. I’ve been a nonstop believer ever since. It has made an incredible impact on my life, and I’ve seen it make a really huge difference in the lives of my clients.
If you’re ready to start practicing gratitude on the daily, so you can have your own a-ha moment, click here. It outlines the simplest way to get started with gratitude. It’s easy, free, and has absolutely no negative side effects. So what have you got to lose?
Standing in front of my fridge, giving thanks for the box that keeps my food fresh, that was my a-ha moment. What’s yours going to be?
PS: Curious to know more about gratitude? Check out this video to learn why “have an attitude of gratitude” is terrible advice.