How gratefulness changes your heart & body
(and stops insecurity)
Experts agree with me that keeping a thankfulness journal can change your perspective about everything.
To the psychology community, I thank you for validating my unscientific but logical pre-suppositions. I have been keeping a thankfulness journal this month to see whether or not my predictions about my spirit would be true.
They are. I’m happier when I’m expressing gratefulness.
Experts tell us that speaking thankfulness generates positive hormones and happy thoughts. Dopamine, among other hormones, triggers pleasure sensors in the brain when you express gratefulness. Your perspective about life actually changes. I’ve experienced a few personal disappointments this month, yet I’m not panicked or hurt. I think I have to thank my thankfulness journal. (See what I just did there?)
All month, I’ve been writing down the things that strike me as particularly wonderful rather than focusing on the obvious. There are 8 days left in November, but here’s what I’ve got so far:
old friends, the Psalms, autumn mornings, computer files, literature, theater, an evening at home, kind strangers, visiting my son at college, a sunny day, veterans, sunsets, letters from friends, chocolate and peanut butter, memories, little children, fall foliage, being able to buy what I want and need, light, a surprise visit from my son, our country’s birthNovember 1-22, 2019, Thankfulness Journal
This coming week, I’ll be baking sugar cookies in the shapes of turkeys, pumpkins, and leaves and spreading my mom’s sugar icing on top. The cookies will definitely make my thankfulness list. They’re yummy, and they remind me of my mom because sugar-cookie making was one of our things we did for every holiday (I now have a ridiculous collection of cookie cutters). As I bake and decorate, I will remember her and be thankful for her. Then I will eat a cookie and be thankful for that. Then I will look at my belly and not be thankful for middle age, but I will be okay with it because I’m living in thankfulness this month.
As it turns out, what happens in your body affects your heart and vice versa. What you experience tells you what to believe. What you believe to be true affects how your body feels. (Click here to read “3 Things I’m doing to be more thankful.”)
Your heart needs encouragement, or else you will feel all the pressure and stress that life throws at you, and you will begin believing that life is not good and that you are not good. The word encourage comes from the Latin word cor, for heart, the seat of our emotions and soul. To encourage is to literally give someone courage to live their best life.
Encouragement is not flattery.
Flattery creates insecurity and a fear of disappointment and rejection. Encouragement empowers people for living.
I’d like to suggest a profound little book that I read years ago by Cynthia Ulrich Tobias. It’s called Do you know what I like about you? It’s a great parenting book about speaking encouragement and virtue into your children. I’ve found that it works well on everyone. The biggest takeaway in this book is learning how to encourage rather than compliment your children (or anyone).
Encouragement speaks to their souls (who they are), but compliments can speak to their insecurities (what they do/what they can’t change about themselves), especially if your compliment is insincere or unrealistic. It’s hard to give insincere encouragements, but it’s easy to give an insincere compliment. What do you think about this?
Insecurity struggles to survive when gratefulness is present.
Insecurity focuses on what you look like or how you behave in order to get admired by others. It focuses on self, while gratefulness focuses on others. Here are some good examples of words that encourage the soul, rather than compliment a behavior:
- I like how your eyes twinkle when you’re being mischievous.
- I like how you figure things out while you’re playing.
- I like how you treat people with kindness.
- I like how you hug me so tight.
- I love your laugh; it brightens my whole day.
- I love the way you listen attentively when people are talking to you.
- I like how you find the positive side to every situation.
Choose grateful living, and you’ll give courage to your own heart and body, as well as to the people around you.
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.1 Thessalonians 5:11
To find a variety of prayers and verses on thankfulness, click here.