You may have noticed friends and family on Facebook or other media listing things they are grateful for. There is a good reason for this. Because American Thanksgiving falls during November, people are using this month as a time to list things they are grateful for.
In my next post, I am going to list some great things you can do to experience gratitude. In this post, I want to list a few reasons why you should embrace gratitude.
Gratitude Changes Your Way of Thinking
Science tells us that the brain is naturally wired to be negative. It keeps is safe, because it means we are ready to identify anything that might hurt us. The problem is that these days we don’t really encounter a lot of actual dangerous things like tigers or bears, but we still activate these negative-sensing areas of our brain. So, we tend to see the negative side of things. Nonetheless, there is no rule that says we have to view the world this way, because our powerful frontal lobes of our brains give us the mental ability to overcome unhelpful thoughts.
Your way of thinking is your perspective, or your mental map of the world. We all see the world differently. You probably know teachers that illustrate this perfectly. Some teachers seem to hate you and your friends, while others like you. Same people, but very different reactions.
Our perspective determines our reality. When one of my students said something dumb, I just laughed. When he said it to another teacher, she flipped out. Again, it is the same “stimuli” (a dumb comment), but the perspective of the person determined the reaction. You know friends that flip out over everything, and others that are calm.
Gratitude is a major way to change your thinking. You are probably used to looking at the negative all the time. Even though your parents care for you and love you, you focus only on the fact that they told you “no” once last week. Your teachers give you their time, for less pay than your parents probably make, yet you only remember the C+ you got in Geometry. It’s ok, because our brains remember that stuff. However, you can change that. You can change your perspective because…
Gratitude Makes You A Happier Person
A recent study showed that being grateful as a teen can make you happier. In fact, being grateful can “reset” the happiness point in your life. You may be getting a bit suspicious, thinking “yeah right…my life sucks!” But that is just the older, more animalistic parts of your brain telling you that. Who is gonna win? You or your animal brain??
The truth is that your life probably doesn’t suck. If I had you list fifty great things in your life, it may take you awhile to think of them, but I bet you could. I bet you could find fifty things in your room that you are thankful for. See how it is all about perspective? In a few days I am going to follow up and explain ways you can be more grateful and express your gratitude, to take advantage of this happiness-inducing concept!
See the follow-up article Four Ways A Teenager Can Benefit From Gratitude for ideas to increase gratitude in your life to change your perspective and make you happier.