REWIRING YOUR BRAIN FOR GRATITUDE

inside of brain

If you didn’t join us for our most recent webinar, we discussed the concept of gratitude and how it can help jumpstart your journey of self-discovery— our theme for this month here at Compete to Create. Before we get into unpacking gratitude, let’s talk about being present. One of the main concepts of our mindset training is the concept of being present— how to train our mind to be more present in any current moment with both ourselves and those around us. Stress and anxiety can seep into any environment that we encounter in our lives. And it often deals with the concept of not knowing. 

When we’re faced with unknowns that are out of our control, what we do in those moments is telling of exactly how much command we have over our minds. What we encourage others to do with mindset training is develop command of the mind in the present moment— and exercise that command a little more often and more consistent. And when you condition your mind to be present more often, you don’t have to be worried about how you’ll react in high-stress and anxiety-inducing situations. You don’t have to hope that you stay grounded or confident or present— because you can train it. 

Our brain is wired to do a lot of things, one of which is to survive. We’re hardwired to scan our environment for problems and danger in order to find solutions protection. And when we’re in flight-or-flight mode— the internal system that tells us whether to protective ourselves by fighting or running away— we lose perspective. And this, of course, can be useful in situations of real danger. But, the issue is that there is no redundancy. Fight-or-flight systems also enact in situations that don’t press imminent danger, even situations that we may esteem or care a lot about, like public speaking or winning an award or seeing family. If we don’t condition our mind, in these moments that we care about the most, our fight-flight systems can fire. But once again, we can condition our mind to just be present. Gratitude is a tool that can help cut through this instinctive system and bring us back.

Studies show that 47% of the time, minds are wandering instead of being present. There are so many potentially beautiful moments that we miss not only thinking about other things, but by focusing on the negative things that might happen or be happening in our lives. That’s basically half of the time that we’re alive and awake. Even once we’ve achieved a goal, we often momentarily feel relief and then immediately program our mind to be set on achieving the next goal. See, it comes down to being grateful for what we have both on the pursuit and once we get it instead of immediately looking to the next.

Start asking yourself: What am I grateful for in this process/achievement and is there opportunity for me to be more present and self-aware? When thinking back on the moments that have gone the most right for you, you probably weren’t looking to the next thing or the negative possibilities. More than likely, you were just taking in the moment. The science behind gratitude is that it enhances cognitive flexibility, improves mood, and improves group behavior. Training your gratitude is training optimism. There are always challenges, blockages, and complications that can arise— but the true test of resilience and mental toughness is how you bounce back when things get tough. Gratitude is a present moment training. It’s taking a minute to embrace perspective. Taking a second to accept things as they are instead of what they could be or are not. Sometimes it’s taking the moment to be thankful for the awareness that you have without the worry that it can bring. Gratitude is a tool and skill that we can use in order to anchor ourselves in the present.

Another layer to gratitude is curiosity. This can show itself in self-talk, how we coach ourselves from moment to moment (i.e. “I wonder how I am going to respond next” “I wonder how I can optimize this moment.”) The idea of looking for what could be possible mindset-wise is another way that gratitude can help us be present. Trust us, your mind will thank you for considering all options before just jumping into a negative or anxious thought spiral. You then have the opportunity to be thankful for the awareness that you have and knowledge/mental insight that you are going to gain from it.

It’s easy to self sabotage. But gratitude can soften the stress that comes with the performance aspect of daily interactions and any present moment. The more we train this day to day, the more we feel prepared in the moments that are really tough.

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