Its thanksgiving season in the USA again. This usually means 2 events are upon us. Its when we look forward to sitting down to an abundant feast while spending quality family time together. Its a time when we show our gratitude and appreciation for the many blessings we have, while taking time to acknowledge and perhaps help those who are less fortunate than we are.

Unfortunately it is also abruptly followed with a blitz of shopping sales. How quickly the shift follows from thinking of others, to thinking of ourselves and the frantic pursuit of consumerism. How quickly the shift follows from thinking about what we do have, to thinking about what we don’t have and urgent need to buy. So before its time to get revved up with notions of black Friday bargains, let us pause to consider the long term benefits of shifting towards a mindset of thinking in a place of gratitude.

In my references to finding and following a fulfilling, thriving path I often describe the journey as an ascension. The purpose and motivation of positive lifestyle change is not only to move forward towards greater health and achievement, but also to elevate our spirits. By this measure, Gratitude=Altitude. Want to learn an invaluable tool than can move you in the upward spiral direction of greater energy and an abundance mindset? Its learning how to practice and build gratitude. Notice that the operative word is practice. Like all other figurative muscles, it needs to be trained and challenged. Its natural to say grace at a thanksgiving day meal. How natural is it to stop and show gratitude and appreciation every day? Like myself, it was very foreign, awkward and out of character at first. So why bother? Ill give 5 good reasons right now.

1. It is mentally healthier. Research shows that stress and fear are controlled through the primitive layers of the amygdaloid brain. This is the emotional threat detector and is characterized by a scarcity mindset. The fear and threat of not having enough. A shift away from fear based limited thinking towards gratitude increases thoughts and feelings of abundance, peace and opportunity. This is achieved by enlisting the brains higher conscious ,awareness layers of the neocortex. By building neural connections and strengthening this higher evolved brain layer, you shut off the primitive part that is looking for threats .You cant be appreciative and grateful, and frightened or pissed off at the same time.
2. It lowers stress levels. Anxiety may be brought about from chronically worrying over things we don’t have enough of (like money, love ,security, health and beauty). The associated stress raises chronic levels of cortisol and epinephrine which has been proven to be toxic ( Read Sapolski ‘s Why Zebras don’t get ulcers). It negatively impacts the immune response, impairs breathing digestion , mood and…….
3.Sleep. In order to enhance better quality sleep, it is necessary to shut down the arousal sympathetic nervous system and stimulate the relaxed parasympathetic nervous system . This regulates slow, even breathing , digestion and lowered heart rate. Practicing gratitude/prayer before bed will enhance this.
4.Increases likelihood of more exercise Why? research shows that practising gratitude contributes to elevation in mood. This emotional spark raises energy levels and the desire to seek positive reinforcement through movement. The most common obstacle to regular automatic exercise is because we often don’t feel like it. At this point we must solely rely on willpower and self discipline, only to find that these resources are often overtaxed and limited .Linking practices of gratitude and mindfulness can often bring about enough positive mental energy to overcome fatigue and negative thoughts.
5.Increases level of pleasure senses and satisfaction. Appreciation heightens awareness of the senses. The pleasure centers relating to sound, taste , smell and touch are heightened and the pursuit of lifestyle activities that bring even greater satisfaction are stimulated though mindful awareness and gratitude.

So now that I have provided enough incentive, why do people naturally deviate away from this practice? Because we have been conditioned away from it. With all the advertising that we are exposed to, at a subconscious level we are always being told what we don’t yet have, and what we need to purchase in order to be happy and fulfilled. Gratitude comes from the practice of acknowledging what you do have. And like any other habit worth training, it takes practice to become consistent with it. Join me next time as I teach you the training tools to build this vital habit muscle.

Do you often worry that your children may become entitled and spoiled? Gratitude is the solution. If you agree please share