— Tara M Martin (@TaraMartinEDU) September 12, 2017
Monday night I sent the above tweet out as an answer to a question concerning daily gratitude habits. It has received a lot of attention, even days after the chat. Why? Maybe it’s because it is an easy “Train Your Brain” exercise to complete each day. (Unlike my get up and run every day for thirty minutes task. LOL.)
Even though Gratitude First is small and relatively easy to implement, the effects of this little act of kindness are astoundingly transforming. (Gratitude First is simply sending a “Thank You” email each morning as the first email.)
I’d like to take a minute to elaborate how this simple task will chemically rewire your brain and that of the recipient.
Rewire Your Brain
Gratitude boosts the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin–just like the prescription drugs Wellbutrin and Prozac. It’s wild, but being grateful literally changes the chemicals in your brain and works like anti-depressant drugs.
Thoughts are DRUGS?!
Basically. Well, they work just like them! When these chemicals are released in your mind, you begin to create synaptic connections that form a positive “web of thoughts” in the front of your brain. This positive feedback loop causes you to feel a sense of happiness and fulfillment.
The best part about this “natural antidepressant” is the fact that it’s FREE!
Daily Dose of the Natural Anti-Depressant
As soon as I read about this in an article (linked below in resources) a while back, I immediately began searching for ways in which I might be grateful EVERY single day.
Email is often my nemesis. It tries to take over my life, and I’m determined to beat all odds and conquer it. (See my Zero Inbox post here.)
Since I dread checking email each morning, I decided to make my FIRST email EVERY day a “Thank You” email or as I like to call it “Gratitude First.” I send them to various people and tell them how much I appreciate them and the work they do for kids. I send them to colleagues, custodians, bus drivers, PLN peeps, friends, and family. No one is exempt. It has changed my approach to diving into my email. It has also warmed my heart to get a reply or a hug with tears in their eyes saying how much that little tiny “Gratitude First” message meant to them. I mean who wouldn’t want to receive a little love in the sea of chaos aka your inbox?
It Gets Better
As I was researching the chemical reaction in the brain regarding gratitude, I learned that simply remembering to look for appreciation increases the chemicals dopamine and serotonin in the mind.
Only searching for it?
Blew my mind! You don’t even have to find something of which to be thankful, just searching for it stimulates your natural anti-depressant drugs! That’s legit!
I’ve found this to be true as I’m searching for who to send my next day’s Gratitude First Email. I want my thoughts to be authentic, so I’m constantly on the lookout for things of which to be thankful. As I see them or think of them, I make a note on my phone, type a text to myself, or voice memo a message so I can listen to it later. Let’s just say my list is pretty long and I’ve begun sending two Gratitude First Emails most days.
Train Your Brain
If our thoughts control our brain and our brain controls every organ in our body, it would be wise for us to choose thoughts that positively affect our entire system–not just our human body system but the culture of our school system. Gratitude First is an easy applicable task with far-reaching outcomes.
Isn’t it often the little things in life that make a big difference?
What little “Gratitude First Everyday” habit can you put in place?
How might this little habit affect the educational system?
More Gratitude Opportunities
You might want to check out Dave Burgess’s #Tlap #Gratitude Challenge here.
My Gratitude First Email habit was inspired by this article.
PS I love the fact that this article totally supports hugging.! #ImAHugger!