Want to change your brain for the better? Want to be a better version of you? Then here are three ways that will do just that.
First of let’s try gratitude. Yes, it is time to get into the ‘Gratitude Groove’.
A. The Gratitude Groove
The art of practising gratitude is just that – an art. It’s not always easy to feel thankful, especially when things aren’t going your way. But oddly enough, an attitude of gratitude might be what the doctor ordered.
Not only does being thankful lead to a higher rate of contentment in your everyday life, but it assures better sleep and even brings down levels of depression through the production of dopamine in the brain.
But the change of rewiring brain neurons sometimes takes some effort, especially if you’re already having a bad day. How can you get into the gratitude groove when you’re not feeling it?
A1. Change by appreciating the little things.
When life is particularly overwhelming, sometimes the only gratitude that we can genuinely feel is for the small things. And that’s just fine.
Taking time to be thankful for that cup of coffee, or that you got that excellent parking space might not seem like much but acknowledging them will do wonders for your mood.
Spending your day looking for small things to appreciate has the interesting effect of making you notice the bigger picture items you can be grateful for as well.
A2. Stop worrying about what other people have.
If you feel like you can’t be grateful because someone else has it better, then your focus is in the wrong place. Who cares what your neighbour has? Be grateful for what you have.
A3. Keep a gratitude journal.
If you’re having trouble finding things to be grateful for, then make a practice of writing down the things for which you’re thankful. Why? First, by writing things down, you find them easier to remember.
But second, you’re creating a record that you can look at to remind yourself that you do have many good things in your life.
Whether giving your time or resources, nothing makes for gratitude like helping someone else and seeing their appreciation.
You might even find new things to be grateful about as well – like your ability to help, or perhaps you have a talent or skill you’re able to share. That makes this a win-win all the way around.
A5. Make gratitude habitual.
Try setting a time to be grateful. Before bed, you can list great things that happened today. Or maybe you’d prefer to start your day in gratitude.
Whatever the case, getting into the mindset of daily gratitude will help you to keep on the lookout for things for which you should be grateful.
Making the change to the gratitude groove is a lot easier to get into than you think.
You start just by being thankful for the things you have in your life, and the rest grows from there.
B. Develop the Growth Mindset Habit
When deciding what change to make and what new habit to pursue, it’s easy to look at all the things we shouldn’t do as a place to begin. We want to stop smoking or stress eating.
We want to learn how to say ‘no’ or to quit spending so much time on social media.
Have you ever considered the flipside of all that by building a positive habit? What if the habit you formed was one of growth and personal development?
Having a growth mindset positively impacts your life in multiple ways, so it’s a great healthy habit to build into your life. What are the benefits of developing a growth mindset?
B1. You keep learning.
Learning is crucial as you not only discover new ways to do things, but by making a practice of continually learning, you develop new ways of thinking, and new ideas.
Learning connects you with more of the world and helps you see things with a more profound significance than you ever thought possible. But more than that, people who stop learning very quickly stagnate.
Studies have shown that the practice of learning new things when you are older helps ward off problems related to dementia. In short, learning is good for your brain!
B2. You learn perseverance.
As we learn new things, we adapt and change how we think. That gives us the ability to see other solutions to problems that would have frustrated us in the past.
By challenging yourself to grow, you learn how to push through obstacles and find new paths.
B3. You learn how to embrace challenges.
Growth can be challenging. But by pushing yourself to grow, that means you’re also pushing yourself to look at challenges differently.
An obstacle now becomes an opportunity to learn something new and to do things in a way you haven’t before.
B4. You learn how to embrace failure.
When you’re interested in growing as an individual, you start to see failure differently. Everything becomes a potential lesson in a way that you didn’t think would work.
B5. You become more open to criticism.
By being willing to grow, you start to see that the input of other people has significance.
You see their words not so much as something negative, but something you can use to develop as a person and learn something about yourself. You might not always like the lesson, but that’s part of growing too.
By embracing personal growth, you find the best version of yourself. You’re able to become more than you ever thought possible, and then you turn that around by finding out that you can become more still.
You’ll find that the furthest edges of yourself are far beyond what you thought you ever could be.
C. Make Meditation a Life-Long Habit
Feeling stressed? Meditation might have the answers that you need.
Meditation has been practised for centuries by people from all walks of life. And not just to relax, but to promote happiness, mindfulness, and to improve memory and self-control.
But more than that, meditation has been found to have numerous health benefits, such as lowering blood pressure and heart rate and has even been thought to improve metabolism.
With so many benefits, it seems meditation should be an easy answer to life’s problems. Why then do people avoid it?
Mostly because they feel like it’s too much of a commitment. Or because they doubt that they can keep it up long enough to have any benefit.
What most people don’t realise that is that meditating only 2 minutes a day is enough to not only see a positive benefit in your life but can be used to jump-start a lifelong habit that will drastically improve your quality of life. How?
C1. Start with the commitment.
You’re only meditating two minutes. Anyone can meditate for two minutes, so why not try?
C2. Decide when you want to meditate.
Don’t pick a specific time of day because that only sets you up for disaster. Instead choose a trigger time, like right after breakfast or before bed.
C3. Find your quiet place.
That is a space that makes you feel calm, where you’re not likely to be interrupted or distracted by a lot of noise. The nice thing?
You can meditate anywhere so if you feel most at peace at the park, then go for it!
C4. Change by sitting comfortably.
The last thing you want is screaming muscles telling you to stop because you have a charley-horse. You’re going to want to sit up nice and straight so keep that in mind as you choose your position.
C5. Remind yourself it’s only for 2 minutes.
You’re not running a marathon here. Just relax and accept that this time is yours.
C6. Breathe in.
Follow your breath and try to be aware of where it goes from nostrils into the throat and down into your chest. Remember to keep your back straight. Hold the breath there.
C7. Breathe out.
Release the breath nice and slow. Count to 10 if it helps. Follow it back out of your body and release with it all the tension and worries that have been plaguing you. That is part of the focus.
Repeat steps 6 and 7 for two minutes. If you find that your mind doesn’t want to sit still, accept that, but bring your focus back to your breathing as soon as you can. Let your thoughts drift. Focus on your breath.
Meditation doesn’t have to be difficult, nor does it take a long-time commitment. Doing it for only two minutes a day will help you to build the habit.
As time passes, you’ll want to increase your meditation time. Be patient with yourself and go gently. Your body and your mind will thank you.
So there we have three habits, Gratitude, Growth Mindset and Meditation that will change your brain for the better and help create a better version of you. Time to get to work, make the change and live an outstanding life.