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Love and Gratitude

Love and Gratitude

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Published by Michelle Gannon
Love and Gratitude. Reflections by Dr Michelle Gannon, Psychologist, Relationship Expert, Marriage Prep 101 Founder, Wife and Mom.
Love and Gratitude. Reflections by Dr Michelle Gannon, Psychologist, Relationship Expert, Marriage Prep 101 Founder, Wife and Mom.

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Published by: Michelle Gannon on Feb 04, 2011
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Dr Michelle Gannon Psychologist, Relationship Expert & Marriage Prep 101 Founder: www.DrMichelleGannon.


Love and Gratitude Studies have found that feeling gratitude can lead to more healthy behaviors, more positive relationships, reduced blood pressure, better sleep, happier mood, and more prosocial behaviors. When people are grateful, they can feel both calm and energetic while recognizing their blessings. When I attended a seminar on Building Gratitude with Dr Robert Emmons and Dr Rick Hanson at the Greater Good Science Center in Berkeley, my intuition about the importance of gratitude was confirmed. I appreciated Rick Hanson’s perspective that we all have the innate capacity to feel good, yet scientists report that the brain has a negativity bias. We tend to have Velcro for negative experiences, but Teflon for positive ones. He suggests that we overcome this negativity bias and “Take in the Good” several times per day because “neurons that fire together, wire together”. Apparently the more that we take in the good, the more our brain will change for the better. Hmmm… Interesting perspective. How do we actually do that? According to Dr Rick Hanson, my friend, colleague and author of Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom, the concept of “Taking in the Good” can be quite simple. Let positive facts become positive experiences. Let yourself feel good if you get something done, if someone is nice to you or if you notice a good quality in yourself. Savor the positive experiences. Really let them in. Dr Robert Emmons recommended that we write in gratitude journals, especially if being grateful does not come naturally. Write down 3-5 things that you are grateful for. He reports that it does not matter if you write in your gratitude journal every morning or 1x per week. You can write your blessings in a pretty journal or on a scrap of paper.

Robert Emmons reports that gratitude allows the celebration of the present, blocks toxic emotions, increases resiliency against stress, and improves social ties and self worth. He also shares many research findings that we really can develop gratitude over time. Think of gratitude as an attitude and way of life. I like to think of cultivating gratitude as a new habit to learn. The structure of writing down what we are grateful for seems to help us look through the lens of gratitude more throughout our day. When couples express gratitude for each other, they feel more loving and accepting. I am reminded of an experience that I had many years ago. My husband and I were presenting at an annual Smart Marriages conference. I met a lovely 70 year old gentleman who told me that he had been happily married for 50 years. I asked him what was his secret to success? He immediately answered that when he was married for one week, his new wife came to him and asked him, “What are three things that you love about me?” He answered, “You are beautiful, smart and a great cook.” The next week, she asked the same question. He gave the same answer. She responded, “You already told me those three things. Tell me 3 new things”. So he did: Week after week; Year after year. He claimed that every week for 50 years he has given her 3 new compliments or expressions of appreciation and gratitude. I was impressed. My husband thinks that he sleeps with thesaurus! Personally, I think that this couple is a great example of a husband and wife who are practicing gratitude in a committed way. In my own family, on birthdays, anniversaries, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day we tell each other what we appreciate about the person we are celebrating. Why wait for a special occasion?

What are you grateful for? Does an attitude of gratitude come naturally to you? After my seminar on building gratitude, I have been taking more time to appreciate the little details in my life: Enjoying a sunny morning, hiking with my golden retriever, listening to a new song, reading a great book, eating a great meal or drinking wine with friends. I am focusing on the positives more and really letting in those experiences. I do keep telling myself that the “neurons that fire together wire together”. Please take this opportunity to tell the people in your lifefamily and friends- that you love them, appreciate them and feel gratitude for them. It will make you happier too!

Dr Michelle Gannon is a Psychologist, Relationship Expert, Marriage Prep 101 Founder, Individual and Couples Therapist, Writer, Speaker, Media Expert, Wife, Mom and Friend. www.DrMichelleGannon.com

Michelle is a Founder of Marriage Prep 101, an Award Winning Workshop for Engaged, Newlywed and Seriously Dating Couples where she has led over 100 Workshops with her husband, Dr Patrick Gannon. www.MarriagePrep101.com. She is frequently interviewed as a Psychologist and Relationship Expert for Radio, TV,

Newspapers and Magazines such as: CBS Early Show, Evening Magazine TV, Sex with Emily Show, The Kathleen Show, Ronn Owens Radio Show, San Francisco Chronicle, TIME, PEOPLE, FIRST, Huffington Post, Chicago Tribune, Oakland Tribune, Match.com, SF Gate, Hitched, YourTango and many more. She writes Expert Columns for SF Gate, Hitched, YourTango, Golden Gate Mother’s Group, SmashFit and DrJoesDiyHealth. Please join her at her blog: www.DrMichelleGannon.com for free articles, audio and video programs.

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