Building Gratitude

So as I’m working on controlling my attitude, one of the ways I’m working on that is to focus on building more gratitude in my heart. I think too much about the things I don’t have, the things that don’t go right, the ways people don’t do what I want them to… It’s so negative. And it absolutely takes for granted all that is right and good. (Again, I’m sadly reminded of the truth that I’m entitled because that “take-it-for-grantedness” pretty much defines entitlement, right?)

So I’m trying to be more aware and appreciative of the good stuff. Scripture backs me on this approach, I think:

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” {Philippians 4:6-7}

I used to feel frustrated about this verse. I’d sure petition God about a lot of things, but then I didn’t always have the awesome peace that was promised. And then one day, I noticed there was a little part about “with thanksgiving” that I’d been totally glossing over. I rarely came to God with thanksgiving. And when I did, it was for the food before meals and maybe sometimes a few other things. I certainly wouldn’t have characterized my overall attitude as one of “thanksgiving”.

And being thankful for the inconveniences or heartache in my life? Not a chance. Complaining and self-pitying are definitely my default responses to hardship. But how do I get over the negativity? Simply knowing I should or even wanting to hasn’t worked.

I’m working on rewiring my brain. No, seriously. Scripture teaches in Romans 12:2 that we can be transformed by the renewing of our minds. 

(This is where it gets fun because we get to talk some science!)

Guess what? Science totally backs up that idea that we can transform our minds. Recently, neuroscience has seen a huge shift. It used to be accepted thought that our brains were set as young adults and they couldn’t be changed. Now we are discovering a concept called neuroplasticity, which basically says that our brains actually stay moldable, like soft plastic, our entire lives.

Y’all, this is exciting! I’m teaching this to clients because it gives us hope that we can rewire and reshape our brains to help us overcome all kinds of issues, including mental health issues like depression, anxiety, OCD, and eating disorders. It gives me hope that I can transform my mind into being more positive and more grateful.

If you’re a nerd like me and so desire to learn more about neuroplasticity, here’s an 18-minute TED Talk on the topic. Enjoy 🙂

I also recommend starting a daily gratitude practice to help in this rewiring process. There are apps you can download or you can write in a journal. But transformation takes intentional effort and it takes time. If you decide to embark on this gratitude journey with me, let me know! I’d love to share in the experience together.

With love,
Cherie

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