On my last blog post I wrote about the powerful effects of mindfulness and how simply tuning into the awareness of our actions, thoughts, and feelings in the present moment are stepping stones for becoming more intentional and experiencing more joy. This is the beginning of the magic of rewiring our brain.
The religious activation and strengthening of several different pathways in the brain leads to the creation of new neural networks. When we repeatedly align our beliefs, feelings, and actions we will experience changes in the brain. As promised, here are some top ways to rewire your brain for more happiness, compassion, and gratitude.
1. Intentionally choose to stay in your own lane: *mindlessly scrolls through the rabbit hole that is instagram*
This is a big one. Many of us are constantly flooded with curated, perfected images on social media. How many times have you found yourself comparing so-and-so’s vacation photos and now you’re suddenly feeling terrible about the fact that you are not in Capri drinking an Aperol Spritz?
This is one example and I am sure you can think of several other examples in which you found yourself caught up in a negative headspace about others or yourself. Be selective with which thoughts you allow to fill your mind. Comparing your unique life course to someone else is a recipe for feeling as though you will never measure up. Honor yourself enough to live by your values and strive to be the best version of you.
2. Intentionally choose to focus on the positive perspective: *gets the second $75 parking ticket this month*
Negative things do happen. Terrible things, even. It takes discipline to avoid the temptation to focus on the negative. When life is not going our way (or we did not see or read the sign we parked in front of), we have the choice to find meaning. I challenge you to next time use a terrible situation as an opportunity to find the lesson, the meaning, or the self-growth in it.
If we constantly scan our environment for what is going wrong that is what we are sure to find. If we intentionally choose to look for what we are grateful for or what is going well we too will find those things. There is always an abundance of things to be grateful for if you choose to look for them.
3. Intentionally choose to be grateful: I have often invited clients to challenge themselves to the following assignment (I also have to remind myself to do this).
Now I’m inviting you to try it out as well.
Every day for one week take a few moments to acknowledge what you are grateful for. Do this assignment in the morning (before you get out of bed, in the shower, during your morning coffee). Ideally try to have completed it before you leave your home and tackle the day. The goal is to lead from a place of being grounded.
Commit to acknowledging three things (props for more) you are grateful for. You can decide to keep these to yourself, or if you wish you can increase the benefit of this assignment by sharing with others.
Here are a few examples:
If you are grateful for that thing your significant other did, feel free to share specifically what you are grateful for and why – this has a ripple effect of spreading joy and gratitude through out the lives of others.
That reference from high school who helped get you accepted to college? Get in touch with them and thank them. Email, write a letter, make a phone call. Allow them to receive an update on you and that you acknowledge their support has helped you arrive at where you’re at today.
During the week pay extra close attention to how you feel through out the day. By the end of the week, let me know if you notice any significant shifts in the way you feel or perceive the world. I suspect you will be surprised that when you actively seek out things to be grateful for more goodness comes into your life.
4. Intentionally choose acts of kindness: Some of the stuff we were told in elementary school is true. Acts of kindness, something as small and simple as going out of your way to make someone smile, boosts happiness.
Be thoughtful towards someone else. Buy an extra coffee to give to someone on your way to work. (I’ll be fully transparent here, receiving this would definitely light up my day)
Challenge yourself to do one nice thing for someone else each day without the expectation that you will receive anything in return.
5. Intentionally choose to take care of your body and what you feed it: Just as we want to intentionally be aware of what we let seep into our minds, we also want to be selective about what we feed our body. The way we treat our bodies is a direct reflection of our feelings of self-worth and value.
It gets back to the basics. The stuff we have heard all our lives.
Keep hydrated, get plenty of sleep, nourish our bodies with healthy food, and keep the body moving. More so than anything else, the most significant shifts in our mood come from our diet and life style.