I was listening yesterday to a talk between Dr. David Hamilton and Michael Neill and as always when I hear David Hamilton talking, he keeps coming back to the concept of gratitude. I find this rather intriguing as he has a very strong scientific background and I wouldn’t necessarily link gratitude with science.
You might have heard all around the self development community the popular idea that gratitude is essential, that you need to do a gratitude list every day, and it’s certainly a major part of the philosophy of the secret and the law of attraction.
However if you are a bit sceptical like me, you may see all that as a bit spooky, or rather lacking some scientific evidences that would give it a bit more credibility. I am not going to engage here on whether the law of attraction works, as after all it is a belief, and as such, can’t be scientifically proven as a fact would be. For me it is not about whether it works or not, but rather if having this belief makes your life better. I would simply like to talk today about gratitude and how there is a scientific element behind it that makes it worth paying attention.
You may have heard of the magic number seven, which is in a nutshell our brain’s memory storage capacity. At any given moment our brain can only store on average 7 bits of information, beyond that it gets confused and overloaded. Even though according to some research our unconscious mind stores every single memory, our conscious mind seems to only be able to focus on 7 at a time. Now how is that useful?
Emotions come from our thoughts as you might have already experienced: If you start to think or talk about a sad event, you’re likely to respond very quickly with sadness. On another hand, if you think about the person you love the most, you are going to be flooded with loving feelings. It is simply a chemical reaction that occurs between your brain and your body. And it has been scientifically established that when we are happy we also are healthier. So how can we take advantage of that?
The answers seems quite obvious. By making sure we have thoughts that make us feel happy. However it is easier said than done, as unless you’ve practiced it, it is at first difficult to take control of your thoughts, and also our thoughts tend to naturally focus more on our issues and current concerns than on what goes right in our life. And that’s where gratitude comes in. By focusing on what we are grateful to already have, either by noticing it on the spot or making a daily list, we force our thoughts to be orientated towards what’s positive in our lives. And if we go over our “allowance” of seven at a time, there won’t be any space left for all the negative ones. Which means that the chemicals that are going to be released in our body will enhance our health and well-being.
So whether or not you are religious, or believe in the law of attraction or not, a gratitude attitude on a daily basis is going to improve the quality of your life and your health as you are bound to be more happy on a general basis. And if you manage to attract on top of it the things you’ve always dreamt of, such as a free holiday in Sri Lanka, your dream house or ideal job, simply congratulate yourself and enjoy the cherry on the cake 🙂