Based on extensive research done by TSM’s Robin Phillips, here are 5 thoughts on gratitude that are crucial to keep in mind all year-round:
- Peace of mind comes from within.
We all tend to think that peace of mind results from positive external circumstances. We tend to believe that when we get what we want, we can finally have peace of mind. Although this can sometimes be true, peace of mind more often results from a positive outlook on life. Recognize this is a step, but it will only affect your EPPP prep when gratitude is put into practice.
Did you know that most of our thousands of daily thoughts flow into our mind without us even choosing? If even a small percentage of our daily thoughts are negative, then our negative thoughts will still amount to hundreds in a day. The accumulation of negativity can ultimately affect our health, relationships, and self-identity. Positive thinking, therefore, takes hard work.
The solution is to starve the negativity with gratitude. Phillips calls this the “happiness formula,” which is that “the things we can control in our internal environment are more fundamental to our happiness, well-being and peace of mind than the things we can’t control in our external environment.” Internal environment refers to our mindset, our spiritual convictions, and our values. External environment, on the other hand, refers to things we cannot control such as the behavior of others and our opportunities.
- It’s not just about not complaining.
To stop complaining verbally does not mean you’ve stopped complaining. Peace of mind is developed through internal circumstances, which means complaining silently will only get in the way. Instead, focus on what you’re grateful for. Putting gratitude into practice will starve negativity. Not only that, but gratitude has health and intelligence benefits. Yes, gratitude can actually make you healthier and smarter!
A grateful outlook on life can increase intelligence and “directly increases heart-rate variability which is itself associated with improved memory and greater cognitive functioning.” Furthermore, when you begin to use gratitude to detoxify your brain, you can spend your energy solving a problem that you come across instead of wasting time complaining about it.
- Gratitude is a way of seeing.
Gratitude is not about telling yourself that you’re happy when you’re not. In fact, artificial optimism makes people, especially those prone to low self-esteem, feel worse.
Gratitude is about reframing. With gratitude, you can see challenges and setbacks as opportunities for growth. It is about focusing on what is good in your life amidst difficulty.
For example, perhaps you did not pass the EPPP the first time. Instead of dwelling in failure, you can set yourself up for future success with gratitude. Look at your failing EPPP score as a leverage point to do better than you would have had you passed the first time. Reframe your unexpected next round of studying as a way to spend time improving on a specific weak area such as test taking strategies or memorization.
- Gratitude increases brain fitness.
Brain fitness improves concentration and focus and helps you handle stress more effectively. In other words, brain fitness will help you pass the EPPP.
What does gratitude have to do with brain fitness? Let’s just say that if gratitude were a prescription drug to improve brain fitness, it would be flying out of the pharmacies. Gratitude can make the effects of common problems less severe–problems such as stress, depression and anxiety. If you want to exercise your brain to improve memory and focus as well as deal with pesky test anxiety, be grateful. Start today by simply writing down a list of what you are thankful for.
- Negativity is toxic.
We typically think of toxins as man-made substances to avoid, such as preservatives or chemicals. But did you know that negativity creates toxins in your brain? This fact makes it even more important to starve negativity with gratitude.
If you’re skeptical, Phillips suggests experimenting with gratitude the next time you’re overcome with negativity. Think of a time when you were grateful for someone. When you start to feel grateful you will notice the negativity vanish.
So, when you tell your loved ones what you’re thankful for this Thanksgiving, keep these five points in mind. While you think you’re taking a break from EPPP studies, you might actually be exercising your brain for success.
Further Reading on Gratitude
- How Peace of Mind is a Skill That Can Be Developed With Practice
- Gratitude and Your EPPP Prep (Peace of Mind Part 2)
- Gratitude and Brain Fitness: What the Research Says
- Gratitude as a Way of Seeing
- Use Gratitude to Detox Your Brain
- It Really is All About Attitude