Like it are not, every one of us is a biochemist every day of our lives. We are each conducting long-term neurochemical experiments on our own bodies.
What’s this all about?
Extensive research has shown the tremendous consequences that emotions have on our physical health, brain functioning, social interactions and overall well-being.
That’s why the simple power of micro-gratitudes is so important.
Your Mood Impacts Your Health
For now, let’s focus on stress. Stress is a cocktail of emotions that trigger a corresponding blend of neurochemicals. Cortisol and adrenaline are the stars of that mixture. Stress corresponds with the sympathetic nervous system, which is your “inner warrior”—your fight or flight response.
Stress in short bursts can be beneficial and potentially even save your life. However, chronic stress—long-term exposure to high levels of stress—is damaging in almost every way. Stress is considered by many to be at epidemic levels in America.
How much stress do you personally feel on an average day?
The antidote to cortisol is oxytocin, the “love molecule.” Natural releases of oxytocin benefit you in almost every way.
Oxytocin corresponds with the parasympathetic nervous system which is the “nurturing mother.” It carries on life-giving physiological activities like cellular repair and waste disposal, digestion, and sexual processes. It brings about clarity of thought, optimism, a spirit of cooperation, creativity, and general feelings of well-being. And it displaces cortisol!
The Simple Power of Micro-Gratitudes
One surprisingly simple way to activate oxytocin and deactivate cortisol is to cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Feeling grateful releases oxytocin and evokes its positive benefits.
I encourage my clients to tap into the power of micro-gratitudes. People frequently focus their gratitude on something big: an achievement, their children’s health, their spouse’s loving support. And that’s good, but micro-gratitudes flood your body with oxytocin all day long, and that’s great!
Micro-gratitudes are simple things like:
- the taste of your favorite coffee drink,
- your daughter’s laughter,
- the colors of the sunrise on the way to work,
- the warmth of the sun on your face,
- the way a piece of music moves you,
- helping someone out,
- how you feel after a good workout.
Well, practically anything.
The challenge is noticing them in the rush of your daily life.
The Simple Secret for Staying Positive
So here’s the secret: start by simply noticing when you feel pleased. Whenever anything pleases you, say inwardly, “Thank you!” and feel the warmth of your pleasure and gratitude. Then seek out more opportunities to be pleased.
That’s it. It’s that simple.
The key is the feeling of gratitude. If your gratitude is just a mental concept, you won’t get the rush of oxytocin. You have to feel it!
After you practice this for a few days, you start to build up a constant feeling of well-being, which acts like an inoculation against stress.
When you continue this practice over a longer period, you begin to realize you are swimming in a sea of blessings—literally in every moment—and life becomes a sacred experience!
Try this practice for yourself and let me know what results you get. Also, please share your own gratitude practices. Thank you!