One of my favourite quotes by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatsois,
“I find hope in the darkest of days and focus on the brightest. I do not judge the Universe.”
How can we find more serenity and happiness and be more like him?
Dr Sarah McKay an Oxford educated neuroscientist says:
“Fear of the unknown is perhaps the fundamental worry that underlies all our very human anxieties — in 2020, many of us have been scrambling to find ways to cope with emotional turmoil … We vary in our tolerance to uncertainty; some people are OK with not knowing what the future holds, others struggle to deal with even the smallest degree of doubt. … The good news is tolerance to uncertainty is like a muscle and it can be strengthened.”
3 Ways Gratitude Benefits Our Brains Mindful.org
- It can help relieve stress and pain. The areas associated with gratitude are part of the neural networks involved when we experience pleasure. These regions help regulate our emotions; gratitude creates a more relaxed body state and allows stress and pain to decrease.
- It can improve our health over time. Research suggests that because gratitude relies on the brain networks associated with social bonding and stress relief, this may explain in part how grateful feelings lead to health benefits over time.
- It can help reduce feelings of depression a study at Indiana University found evidence that gratitude may induce structural changes in the brain, so the mental practice of gratitude may even be able to change and re-wire the brain.
- It can help strengthen your immune system and improving sleep patterns, feeling optimistic and experiencing more joy and pleasure, being more helpful and generous, and feeling less lonely and isolated.
That’s all very well you may say, but how can I review 2020 with gratitude?
There are 2 steps:
- We pay attention and acknowledge the good things we’ve received
- We acknowledge the role other people play in providing our lives with goodness
For me, the best of 2020 was all centred around my family. In amongst all the uncertainty and challenging events, they were a constant; they kept me grounded. I got to know them more than ever this year and as most people’s biggest regret is not spending enough time with those they love. I feel grateful for that. Personally, I’ve not been as fit and healthy as I am now since my teens, so I’ve spent more time on my own wellbeing too.
So, set aside 30 minutes, get a pen and paper, download and listen to my 3 minute Breathing Space, create the head space for reflection and write down your answers to these questions. Don’t overthink it, write whatever comes into your head.
- What am I most grateful for in 2020 and why? Name the one main experience/person/thing.
- How did this experience/person/thing make me feel?
- How did this experience/person/thing impact me and my life?
- What are five more things I’m grateful for in 2020 and why?
- Who am I most grateful to have had in my life in 2020 and why?
- Which of their personality traits do I most appreciate?
- How did this person impact me?
- What did I learn and how did that help me?
- Who are three more people I’m grateful for?
- How did they impact me?
- Which experience am I most grateful to have had in 2020 and why?
- How did it make me feel?
- What did I learn from it?
- What five things did I do for others this year?
- Why did I do these things?
- How did it make me feel?
When you have finished don’t just discard your notes, keep referring to them so that you can keep in mind what is important.
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Thanks to Juliana Hahn at the Curious Butterfly for the End of Year Gratitude practice.