Your brain on gratitude: the perks of brazen thanksgiving

“Gratitude is some seriously powerful stuff.”–Emily Wenstrom

I’m heading to Orlando tomorrow to speak at the Hay House I Can Do It! conference. Among other things, there will be a huge celebration of Wayne Dyer’s life. If you want, you can lifestream it. For free. Click here for more info:

I’m preparing for the conference so thought I’d re-run a blog post that’s all about gratitude which, as you know, is the topic of the new book I just turned in. Enjoy!!

A couple years ago, I wrote a travel piece on the Cook Islands, a tiny nation of 15 spits of land, surrounded by millions of miles of ocean.

The 15,000 or so people who live in the Cooks rightfully believe they are blessed, that God has given them everything they could possibly need.

It’s an attitude that can’t help but provide. When someone shows up on this planet with a grateful heart and eyes seeking only things for which to be thankful, that’s exactly what they’ll find. Abundance aplenty.

Cook Islanders don’t need researchers to tell them that their feelings of thankfulness have a direct and beneficial effect on their brains, a finding scientists are reporting from labs all over Western universities.

By naturally focusing on positives, on how lucky and blessed they are living in these beautiful South Pacific islands, they’re rewarded with neurotransmitters like dopamine and other feel-good chemicals that form neural patterns of happiness. Their unending gratitude literally sculpts their brains which in turn increases their enthusiasm and energy and lowers their stress.

Consequently, their neural pathways are markedly different than those of us in the West that are conditioned to shine our spotlights on what we resent or regret or what we think is “wrong with the world.”

Renee Jain, a coach of positive psychology, says most Westerners have a negativity bias where “bad stuff” outweighs the good 3:1. Think of all the good drugs (dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin) we’re missing out on by our bitching.

That’s why my mission in life is to be like the Cook Islanders, to focus only on the supreme beneficence of the universe.

I consciously choose to believe such thoughts as:

Life is freaking awesome.
The universe is bounteous and forever generous.
Something miraculous is bound to happen to me today.

Today, I say thank you for all the blessings that are barreling my way, all the abundance, the joy, the peace of mind that I count on day after day. To my way of thinking, responding to any other reality is simply irresponsible.

So tell me … what are you grateful for?

Pam Grout is the author of 17 books including E-Squared: 9 Do-it-Yourself Energy Experiments that Prove Your Thoughts Create Your Reality and the recently-released sequel, E-Cubed, 9 More Experiments that Prove Mirth, Magic and Merriment is your Full-time Gig.

Are you smokin’ what you’re selling?

“I believe reality is a marvelous joke staged for my edification and amusement and everybody is working very hard to make me happy.”– Terence McKenna

Elizabeth Gilbert used that phrase in a Facebook post that was brought to my attention the other Sunday by my power posse. I mentioned how, during my February workshop in Switzerland, I freaked out because I’d run out of material by Saturday afternoon when I still had Sunday to go.

Speaking in public, up until now, has been one of my demons, one of the last “stories” I seem to protect. My heart races, my fears start jabbering and my thoughts get to moving so fast that I’ve considered buying them a training bra.

A couple of marvelous women from the workshop in Bern (one was a banker, the other, a mystery writer) invited me for drinks and dinner Saturday night. My old self, the one with the running bra thoughts, would have declined. After all, I needed to go back to my hotel room and work diligently on tomorrow’s workshop.

But if I was truly “smokin’ what I was selling,” I would go for the joy and the fun and trust the universe.

I took the hit! I went for drinks and dinner, had a marvelous time and woke up to the Divine serendipity of great ideas for Sunday’s workshop. It went great!!!

Last Sunday, I spoke in Denver at the I Can Do It! conference. Same crazy running bra thoughts, same fear.

It went quite well. Or at least I thought so. I got lots of rave reviews and a long line of people wanting me to sign books. I felt good. I went out to celebrate with two old college friends.

But that night, when I returned to my hotel room, an email popped into my inbox from a woman who had attended the workshop.

She said she was disappointed. She was writing, she said, to help me, to point out how uncomfortable I seemed and how I wasn’t the caliber of the other speakers.

Needless to say, my crazy thoughts had a field day. They even urged me to ignore one of my chief Course in Miracles lessons–“In my defenseless my safety lies.” I was tempted to write her back to ask, “And this helps me how?”

I also considered canceling all my upcoming gigs. But then I remembered another one of the things I “sell.”

If you don’t like the way your lipstick looks in the mirror, it’s pointless to fix it on the actual mirror. You have to fix it in yourself where’s it’s actually fixable.

I realized that as long as I still “yammered on” about my fears of public speaking, I was going to continue to see that reality in the mirror. She was just voicing that part of myself that still believes the old story, that still thinks criticizing myself will somehow improve me.

And I realize that those critical running bra voices offer NOTHING helpful. I just need to observe them. And love myself anyway.

Pam Grout is the author of 17 books including E-Squared: 9 Do-it-Yourself Energy Experiments that Prove Your Thoughts Create Your Reality and the recently-released sequel, E-Cubed, 9 More Experiments that Prove Mirth, Magic and Merriment is your Full-time Gig.