TOP TIPS FOR CHANGEMAKERS #18
Those of you that know me or have been following Actually for a while will know that I believe in the possibility of change and that we – as business owners, entrepreneurs, coaches and consultants, can make a difference and create the change that our world needs. I believe that we need three things to grow businesses that make money and make a difference: the right communications, the right mindset and the right support.
For me, joy and optimism are crucial elements of the ‘right mindset’. But I recognise that right now, joy can feel hard. The constant drip, drip, drip of bad news; the uncertainty we are all living with; the impact of the global pandemic on lives and on economies – these things combine in a potentially toxic stew that undermines our capacity for optimism. And we can feel isolated, anxious and even despairing as a result.
All this week I’ve been talking and thinking about gratitude.
In the Actually Facebook Group I asked who and what people were most grateful for and was inspired and delighted by the responses. I shared some insights into my own gratitude practice and encouraged everyone in the group to commit to just a week of focussing on gratitude – to see if by the end of the week (on Sunday) they felt a difference in their overall mood. I’m looking forward to checking in with people and seeing what they noticed.
Why this focus on gratitude? Well, because of all the tools I use, it is my daily gratitude practice that has been the most effective at helping me to remain connected to joy. Even when I’ve been experiencing great challenges and difficulties, the practice of spending time each day treasuring, cherishing and focusing on what I have – rather than what I lack – has invariably lifted my mood and helped me to develop clarity and perspective.
Gratitude changes everything. You begin to see the world as a place of abundance and grace rather than lack and despair. You begin to see your life experiences as beneficial lessons and empowering opportunities. It changes how you perceive yourself and how others will therefore perceive you.
The positive impact of gratitude is not just my subjective opinion. There have been several major scientific studies into gratitude and the impact on mental health. MRI scans show that when a person is feeling gratitude, more dopamine is released and over time the brain will train itself to focus more on the good rather than the bad in order to access these higher levels of dopamine. Additional research shows that the practice of gratitude has a long term impact on the part of the brain that controls learning and decision-making.
So, gratitude is not only good for your emotional wellbeing, it is good for your brain!
My practice is very simple – and as a result easy to maintain. I keep a beautiful notebook and pen next to my bed. Every night before I go to sleep I spend a few moments reflecting on my day and writing down the three things I am most grateful for.
But there are a plethora of different options for practicing gratitude including:
- Keeping a ‘Gratitude Journal’ and setting aside 15 minutes each day to journal on what your are grateful for in your life
- Using ‘gratitude’ as the focus for a meditation or breathwork practice
- Adding a pause for gratitude to the beginning or end of your yoga routine
- If you are religious and your religious rites include prayer, pray can be an act of thanksgiving and gratitude
- Once a week writing a letter of gratitude to someone who has helped, supported or encouraged you that week – even if they may not have done so deliberately
Experiment. Develop your own practice. Stick to it for a month. Make a commitment to doing something positive and joyful each day to counteract the relentless bad news we are subjected to.
And then come back and let me know how you get on.
Let’s ACTUALLY make a difference.
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Phew! Doesn’t that sounds awesome?
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