In their book Brain Power, Michael Gelb and Kelly Howell explore the brain's amazing potential to grow stronger and more complex as we age, which flies in the face of conventional wisdom. This user-friendly dive into neuroscience includes the following documented assertion:
“…People who count their blessings rather than their burdens are more adaptive, are more optimistic, and report a significantly greater experience of well-being. They write, “In an experimental comparison, those who kept gratitude journals reported fewer physical symptoms, felt better about their lives as a whole, and were more optimistic about the upcoming week compared to those who recorded hassles or neutral life events.” An attitude of gratitude is relatively easy to cultivate, and a simple gratitude journal is the best way to get started. Take a few minutes every morning to write out a list of things that inspire you to feel grateful. After you compose your list, spend a few seconds focusing on the feeling of gratitude for each thing you’ve written down. After you’ve reviewed your list, just “float” in the feeling of gratitude for a minute or so. Repeat the process in the evening. That’s all it takes to get your immune system revved up.”
A few months ago I started a so-called “gratitude journal.” I haven't always been consistent in jotting down my blessings, but when I do there's definitely a helpful perspective and a peaceful mood lift. The prospects of fewer physical ailments and an overall more optimistic view of life are more than worth the few minutes it takes each day to reflect and write. (And, of course, I recommend the Evernote application for easy capturing and access across all forms of technology.)
What are you grateful for right now? See if you can think of at least 10 things. You might have 15 to jot down tomorrow, and your brain will thank you!