I went to a talk on creative aging last spring. An audience member asked how the speakers how to cope with those “dark night of the soul” moments. One of the presenters gave a very simple answer—give thanks. More specifically, he said he starts each day with a practice of gratitude. When he wakes up, he tries to make his first thoughts ones of thanks for whatever the day will bring—a powerful practice.
Here is one reason why. When we are happy, we are more likely to remember happy memories. When we are depressed, sad memories are more easily accessible. That is how the brain works; memories are more easily accessible when we are in the same mental state as when the memories were created.
Starting the day with gratitude makes it easier to access thoughts of gratitude throughout the rest of the day.
On a related note, another presenter I recently saw, John Erdman http://www.ideal-companies.com, said he starts each day by jumping out of bed, putting his hands in the air, and shouting “I am a fireball!” It revs up his entire day.
I tried it. The first day was a pretty pathetic attempt. The second day was a bit less dismal. Now I have quite a bit of fun jumping out of bed.
You can try your own experiment. Start each day with thanks, with fireballs, or with both. See how your day progresses. If you try the experiment, let me know how it works.
Scientific studies have documented that simply creating a facial expression causes the rest of one's body to react as if one were actually feeling the emotion that goes along with the expression. In his book Being Peace, Thich Nhat Hanh suggests smiling as soon as you wake up. Sure enough, on the days I remember to do it, I feel lighter of spirit all day long.
Thank you JessAnn. I love it when science documents what our body knows.