Last week a new book came in. This is not very special because I just love reading books. Fiction and nonfiction. I just love to learn and be inspired! I am always reading multiple books at the same time. This new book was on the neuroscience of anxiety and depression. The day it arrived, I dove right in. And very quickly I was jumping up and down with excitement and joy. Because after the first chapter I was already sold. This was such an interesting and well written book! Big smile on my face...😁😁 (so yes, I am a bit of a geek. But this geekiness brings me joy! So I am a happy geek).
When I left academia I felt that what I would miss the most was access to so much knowledge. Last week when I was feeling so happy with my new book, I realized that I actually don't miss that at all. For I fortunately found a way to satisfy my hunger for daily learning by reading lots of books and listening to podcasts. (These books and podcasts are also narrated in a more accessible way than articles in scientific journals). I felt and feel so grateful that access to knowledge is at your fingertips in big parts of today's world.
Why am I telling you this?
Well, because this new book (The Upward Spiral, by Alex Korb, PhD) had some interesting things to say about gratitude. And I am a big fan of gratitude. Even more so since I recently got to experience the big positive effect of gratitude on my life, again.
As I told you in an earlier blog, I had not felt balanced for some time. One of the things I did to help myself get back on track again was reinstalling my gratitude practice. Every day writing down three things that I am grateful for. Why? Because consciously taking a few minutes to think about all there is I am thankful for in each day, connects me to my joy. It helps me to see all the wonderful things in my life.
This week I was thinking about the huge difference this gratitude practice makes in my life. I compared the three months that I had not written down anything, to the last two months, in which I have written down what I am grateful for every day. It was such a marked difference! Now I actually feel that it was good that I let my gratitude practice slip. This experience has made me so aware again of the huge power of this small practice. I think the chances are slim that I will let the practice slip again!
Back to the Upward Spiral. I always thought being able to find things you are grateful for is causing you to feel better. But what I learned from this book is that actually this not how it works. You don’t have to find anything. What makes the difference is the searching, the looking for small things you’re grateful for. So even if you cannot find anything that you’re grateful for, the fact that you have searched for things will already make you feel more joyful. (Of course actually finding things is an added bonus).
I also learned about the biology behind why a gratitude practice works so well. I learned that gratitude works in the same way as anti-depressants do. Both gratitude and anti-depressants boost the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotine. Serotine improves willpower, motivation and mood. Dopamine increases enjoyment and is necessary for changing bad habits. That is why gratitude has such a positive effect on how you feel.
Are you feeling worried or down? Do you want to experience more joy in your life?
Answer this question every day: What am I grateful for?
I would love to hear about the things you are grateful for today. Reading what you are grateful for will definitely put a smile on my face and will add extra joy to my day. So please share what you are grateful for below in the comments (or send me an email at email@example.com) !
Wishing you a beautiful day!
P.S. Did I give you food for thought? Did I give you a different or new perspective? Do you want more inspiration about how to experience more joy and energy in your work and private life? Or on how you can feel balanced without sacrificing your ambitions? Sign up for my inspiration mail here. It is free.