Thankfulness is one of the most powerful emotions to feel and process. The cool thing is, it is something that is able to be chosen. It is not something that happens automatically when everything is going right – it is something that occurs when you are intentional!! No one will ever be in a perfect enough situation that they will just automatically feel thankful. This is why you hear so many sad stories about people who have everything according to the world’s standards but are hopeless and often depressed.
Thankfulness is one of the most talked about topics at this time of year. Although it can become cliche and something people do not give a second thought, it’s actually SCIENTIFIC! It is more than just a “good idea” or a way to be in touch with your emotions.
The hypothalamus is the part of our brain that regulates a number of our bodily functions including our appetites, sleep, body temperature, metabolism and growth. A study done in 2009 showed that the hypothalamus is activated when we feel gratitude or display acts of kindness. In the same way that our breathing changes and our pulse quickens when we feel fear or anger, feelings of gratefulness and thankfulness create different physiological responses.
Thankfulness is also addictive! The more intentional you are with it, the more dopamine is released from your brain – which makes your brain very happy. Although addiction typically has a negative connotation, in this instance it is a positive one because it reinforces a cause and effect that is beneficial for the body.
Here are a few ways to be intentional with thankfulness:
1. Be sensitive to ingratitude.
2. Fight ingratitude with gratitude. Taking a moment to pause and consider what is right even when everything seems wrong will help shift your perspective and create a good habit.
3. Avoid the comparison game. This could mean in your day to day life – on social media for example, or it could mean relationally – over the holidays as you are catching up with family and friends and sharing about your lives with each other.
Here are a few things to consider being thankful for:
1. A body that functions and adapts to stressors. The fact that you are still breathing means your body is still adapting to some degree!
2. A body that is dynamic and able to be changed. This means that change is possible! Instead of seeing the responsibility of caring for your body and health as a burden, think of it as a privilege.
3. A body that is self-healing and self-regulating by it’s innate intelligence. Your body knows exactly what to do without us having to consciously order it around! I’m so thankful I don’t have to tell my body when or how to heal.
There are so many options for things to be thankful for, the key is making it as genuine and authentic as possible! Check out the link at the bottom of the page for research done on gratitude and how it affects our physiology.
We are so thankful for each of you and the opportunity to serve you here at Opp Family Chiropractic!
Dr. Sophie Mills, Chiropractor