• Lucy Brown

Apparently, the brain can not experience both negative and positive emotions at the same time

Today I woke up debating the words 'thankful' and 'mindful' and how they form the basis of my philosophy, my belief system.

Personally I do not believe in any specific deity but I do give thanks for what I have and try always to do the right thing - pay it forward, help others, be mindful of my actions and cognisant of how they may impact others - positively or negatively.

Don't get me wrong, I am no saint, no beacon of virtue, but at least I do try, whether consciously or unconsciously.

In his 2008 book, 'Thanks', Robert A. Emmons - editor in chief of the Journal of Positive Psychology - draws on the first major study of the subject of gratitude, of “wanting what we have,” and shows that a systematic cultivation of this underexamined emotion can measurably change people’s lives.

Emmons began to study gratitude during a conference on the classical sources of human strength: wisdom, hope, love, spirituality, gratitude, humility; he signed up for humility but was assigned gratitude. Emmons was surprised to find that by practicing gratitude, people can increase their happiness. Apparently, the brain can not experience both negative and positive emotions at the same time. Emmons proposes ten ways for adults to practice gratitude:

- Keeping a gratitude journal

- Remembering the bad parts of the past and being grateful for getting through those times

- Asking three questions ("What have I received from ___?" "What have I given to ___?" and "What troubles and difficulties have I caused ___?")

- Learning prayers of gratitude

- "Coming to your senses"

- Using visual reminders to be grateful

- Making a vow to practice gratitude

- Using the language of gratefulness

- Going through the motions

- Thinking outside the box for things for which to be grateful.

He also calls for gratitude training in childhood, in order to develop a tool that will foster well-being. I guess the 'mindfulness' training practise in some schools is a welcome evolution of this proposition.

Today especially we need to be thankful, and we need to learn from this experience, draw on inner strengths, use what we go through to build our inner resilience.

Here right now in our civilised and safe little town, we have plenty to be thankful for and we recognise this more than ever. At the same time, I can't help thinking of those so much worse off than ourselves and feel frustrated that I cannot help more - stuck in a twilight zone.

So here goes... my three reasons to be thankful today are:

1. I am not ill.

2. I am not alone and have people around me to interact with.

3. I have plenty of good quality things to eat and drink.

Thinking of all those who do not have any of these things and thinking what I can do more to help in these 'unprecedented' times. 💕

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