One Simple Change To Find More Moments To Be Grateful ForNov 26, 2021
Have you ever noticed that when you have a list of 25 things to do, and you knock out 20, your brain still focuses on the 5 that you didn’t do? You can blame your ancestors for that! Your brain is wired to put more emphasis on negative experiences than positive ones. It’s how our caveman ancestors survived and our brains evolved. It’s called the Negativity Bias.
That’s why we tend to notice more of what we don’t accomplish, why we look for problems, and worry about what might go wrong. When we feel like we’re not doing enough, our brain filters to find evidence and reinforce that we’re not doing enough — so we only focus on what we’re not doing. We don’t focus or acknowledge what we did do, and we’re stuck in an endless loop of not enoughness.
The problem with this is that we’re so focused on everything that we haven’t done — that we are missing what is right in front of us, and we are missing the moments that matter.
If you’re like me and many of my clients, you will find that you already have many moments every day that you are grateful for: the picture your child drew for you, the joy of hearing your child giggle, the unexpected hug from your child or partner. The moments are there now, you’re just not present to them because your brain isn’t filtering for them.
Neuropsychologist Donald Hebb described this as “neurons that fire together, wire together”. It’s how pathways in the brain are formed and reinforced through repetition, and it will keep you seeing and feeling like you don’t do enough.
The past couple weeks I have been writing about managing your lists, and making time for what matters most without doing more.
I invited you to consider that the lists in your head and expectations that you feel you are not meeting, are actually what keep you from creating more of the moments that you want and from being present for the ones you already have.
The good news is that your brain can be trained to filter differently, and you can grow new neural pathways. It starts with paying more attention to what you focus on. Tony Robbins said “Where your focus goes, energy flows”. I’d like you to consider that where your focus and attention goes, is what you will grow more of in your life.
When you start paying attention to what you are grateful for, your brain will start filtering and giving you more evidence of things to be grateful for.
One great way to help your brain kick-start filtering for grateful moments, is to write down three things that you’re grateful for each day. Knowing that you are tasked with three things to be grateful for at the end of the day will have your brain looking for them, and this will help you be more present when they occur.
Studies have shown we can effectively produce reliably higher levels of positive emotion and improve our well-being by writing daily about the aspects of our lives that we’re grateful for. ( https://positivepsychology.com/gratitude-research/ ) Remember, where your focus goes is what you grow — in other words, when you intentionally focus on what you are grateful for in your life, you will create awareness of more things to be grateful for.
I invite you to consider that you can have more balance, peace and happiness in your life now, you just have to shift your focus.
If you want to create time for what matters most, without doing more — I have a gift for you! Download the worksheet that I use to help clients sort through their lists and make time for what matters most, go to melpeirce.com/manageyourlists to request a copy.
Kids don’t come with a Parenting Manual, and parenting in the 21st Century is so different than it was for our parents. That’s where I come in! I know all of the latest research and strategies, and I teach parents to keep their cool and communicate better so they can effectively navigate the challenges of modern parenting. Go to melpeirce.com if you want to learn more about me or access other parenting articles or resources.
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