Gratitude in the heart of your home

You can’t be angry when you are feeling gratitude.

You can be resentful when you are feeling gratitude.

You can’t be sad when you are feeling gratitude.

Feeling gratitude transitions your emotions to felling love about what you have.

Once you love what you have you are opening your heart to more abundance, more love, more experiences that will trigger positive emotions.

Let’s make this a big deal. Not only couple thoughts you capture in the morning or before you go to sleep in a journal. Let’s display it big in the heart of our homes.

I have a gratitude board in the middle of the living room that reminds us of some things we are grateful about. I also invite guests to write what they are thankful for.

This morning we restarted the board. I’m grateful that my little one was appreciative for other than family, such as hugs, the moon, and herself!

I’m also grateful that if you read this post you might transition to a better feeling and remind you that we are alive and enjoying this wonderful planet with incredible family and friends. Just put your hands in your heart, close your eyes and take a deep breath.

Elisheba and the Moon

One day a little girl was sitting on a bench. A full moon cleared the sky like a second day. No stars can be seen, only the white beautiful ornament dangling in the grey space. She looked deeply at the moon and felt a wash of light, refreshing beam of softness on her eyes, body and spirit. She took a deep deep breath, closed her eyes and put her hands on her heart, feeling all the joy of the world expanding from her chest. She opened her eyes again and looked at her friend in the sky.

– Girl, you are swimming in love and joy, now you can ask me anything that you do want.

– Moon. Thank you. I want a flower.

In the hands of the little girl, a partially opened red Colombian flower appeared in her hands. It was as wide as her hand with silk thorns. Its fragrance impregnated her soul with good thoughts.

– Moon. Thank you. This is soo beautiful… I want a puppy.

A tiny bark was heard from the corner of the room. A small Havanese dog joyfully run to her lap. She named him Toby. He licked her face and tickle her spirit.

– Moon. Thank you. He is so cute… I want inspiring love.

The moon placed the girl on Earth and gave her the name of Elisheba. Gave her parents that showed her unconditional love. Gave her siblings that taught her how to fast forgive and love no matter what. Gave her friends to create magical experiences. Gave her the world in a blank canvas for her to paint.

Hacking Negative Emotions

I previously wrote a blog about gratitude practices. In this blog I want to talk about the science behind why gratitude makes us happier and how to we can hack negative emotions.

What is Gratitude?

Before getting into the science let’s define Gratitude. I like the definition by Sansone & Sansone:

“Gratitude is the appreciation of what is valuable and meaningful to oneself and represents a general state of thankfulness and/or appreciation.”

thankyou

The  “what” in the definition, makes gratitude an event related emotion.  Gratitude is triggered.  Without the “what” (or an event) there is nothing to be grateful for. We, as humans need to be aware of the event, process it, and convert it to a feeling.  The feeling will take us to a state of thankfulness, which is a positive emotion.  

How de we assign feelings to events?

I put my philosopher hat and came up with the following. Note: This helps me understand the process so I can hack it. I just want to share it.

framework

The process of assigning feeling to events  can be broken down into three parts. 1) An event occurs, 2) the event is perceived and 3)  a feeling is associated to that event. Let’s take an event that has a negative emotional outcome.

negative

Event

An event is just something that happens in a given location and at a given time. Example of events are: Someone said that you look great yesterday in the afternoon,  the morning was sunny, I drank a coffee today in the morning,  I hiked for 3 hours over the weekend, I got a bonus this year in December, someone passed me and almost hit my car during my morning commute, etc.

You can’t control some of the events, what people think, say or do. 

control

However, you can control how you react to events, what time you wake up, what you eat and how you spend your time.

Perception

Perception is the process of becoming aware with your senses of a particular event. For instance, if someone is saying that you are great, but you don’t perceive (hear) it, this event is like it never occured. And then later if someone tells you about it you might say in a clueless voice “Whaaaaat?”.

When we process an event, we use previous memories but we can also overwrite the feeling caused by similar events. In other words, we can perceive events (even if they don’t seem negative) to be a positive one, and create a positive emotion.

We process the event both in a conscious and unconscious way. The unconscious way taps into previous similar experiences (thanks to the amygdala).  

Feeling

The third component is feeling. After the event occurs and you perceive it, a feeling is associated to the event. If it is a strong feeling, we call it an emotion. In the perception process we initially and subconsciously assign a feeling.  The feeling take us to an emotional state. The thing is, we can change the outcome (emotional state), by hacking the event, or how we perceive the event.

How can we improve happiness with gratitude?

Here is my practical take on this. One of the ways to be happy is to practice gratitude. Gratitude can come easily with events that are positive and that we can easily find value from them. The difficult part is hacking events that take us to negative emotional states. And this is where I want to suggest some strategies.

  1. Create more events that can take us to positive emotional states. Try to do what you love everyday. Spend your time on stuff that you are passionate about, dance more, sing more, laugh more, have more sex, etc.
  2. Self talk by reframing the perception of the events that take you to negative emotional states and, be grateful about the new way you look at the event.  The trick is to take over your emotional brain. This is how:

 

 

process-end.png

 

Our rational mind has the ability to rationalize and overwrite our belief systems. This is why we need to create in our minds a better story. Once we doubt or reframe our previous memories that shape our belief system, we can start looking at events in a different way. We can get so good at this that some people can almost get from an  insane “negative” event  something positive and be thankful for it. Just listen to the inspire story of Mo Gawdat or the JJ Virgin’s story about mindset and miracles both at Lewis Howes Podcast. Also, another good reference about how to get control if your brain is Mel Robbins’ 5 Second rule.

So let’s create positive stories and make this world better by improving our interaction with yourself and others.

 

Happy and Wise Christmas

Christmas is a special time of the year to be with family and friends, remember  Jesus’ birth,  be kind to each other,  exchange presents, eat, dance, hug and laugh. This is the first Christmas in 13 years that I will not be with my kids. This is the bad side of a separation.  Anyway, I  will be with my kids on New Year’s Eve and we will celebrate a late Christmas. I will go to Church, volunteer, and take time to reflect about how to give more and become wiser (especially with my kids).

 

christmas.jpg

Practicing Gratitude

I ask my kids every night before they go to sleep to tell me one thing they are grateful for. They respond “Thank you God for …”. They go to bed with the most memorable experience of the day in their minds. This practice is one of the things I put a lot of effort in and is one of the things I would like them to remember for the rest of their lives. Maybe it will be so hardwired in their brain that it will pass to their children. But,  sometimes, let me tell you, it is not that easy.

bedtime

I meditate in the mornings for many reasons. However, one reason is to help me practice my gratitude.  In the morning after meditating and with my hands on my heart I think about various things I’m grateful for.  I think about three to five things. Some I repeat every day (I can never stop being thankful for my kids) but I always try to find one or two new little things.

sunful

On some occasions I use a journal to log my thoughts of gratitude.  Sometimes a jot down my thoughts digitally in Evernote (I will do a post about this in the future) and other times in my moleskin notebook. But, I am more consistent with my thoughts after meditation.

Gratitude has tons of benefits. Just read this post “The 31 Benefits of Gratitude” that compiles more than 40 studies that shows how gratitude improves happiness. Even though I’m not in the place where I want to be, I’m very grateful for where I am and how I got here.

I’m not sure when I started to consciously practice gratitude. Maybe it was my mom, that taught me to be appreciative at the half full glass, one of the podcasts I heard, or a message at church. The fact is, I have stuck with this practice for more than a year.

Here are my two favorite gratitude practices from successful people (Tony Robbins and Tim Ferriss) which I consider my mentors.

Tony Robbins practices gratitude in the middle of his 10 minute daily priming routine. I do a similar practice.  I give thanks after my 20-30 minutes of morning mediation.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EXbUFgqjMdk&w=500]

Tim Ferriss uses the Five Minute Journal in which the first section is about gratitude. I sometimes do something similar. I’m just not as good with paper any more, even though I like my moleskin notebook and have thought about buying the Five Minute Journal. I most of the times prefer Evernote.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=glFMpyx_oU4&w=500]


I’m planing to do more posts related to this topic in the next weeks. Stay tuned.

great-hear-from-you