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Gratitude, Me and escaping prison.


Ok, maybe the title is a slight exaggeration. I haven't 'escaped' prison, but practicing gratitude and mindfulness has certainly kept me out of it.


People piss me off. I know. For someone who actually works with folks that's some admission. But it's true. One of the many reasons I began my own journey with Mindfulness was my bad temper. I needed the moment of choice. I needed to be able to see that my annoyance was really a me issue and not a they issue. I knew it. Years of training and clinical work informed me of that. But that did not stop me being a prime grade twat.


Thankfully, many years ago, I began my own journey with Mindfulness. It gave me the moment I needed. Choose to walk away, choose to be a twat.


I am reasonably happy with the number of times I chose to walk away.


And because I was reasonably happy, I chose to explore. See what else I could learn. ]


All the literature and guidance led to developing a 'practice of gratitude'. Yeah, even I think that sounds a bit wanky.


Gratitude is almost the exact opposite of a cranky Scotsman. The stereotype is there for a reason! I remember walking on a beautiful, spring morning. Very early. Just after 5am.


It was one of those days when the world is bathed in softness. The light, the air, the scent of grass. Joyous doesn't even begin to describe it. Strolling along with the dogs, I met an old man. Filled with bonhomie, I greeted him and said, 'Gorgeous morning'. His response? 'Aye.... it'll rain later'.


The exact opposite of gratitude.


So I doubled down. Every day I write down at least one thing that I am grateful for. One thing. Good food, my mad wolfdog, friends. It has, on occasion, when the darkness is close, saved my life.


Science supports it. Practicing gratitude encourages the release of serotonin and dopamine. The 2021 UCLA gratitude study was one of many in the past few years to note not only this but physical changes to the subjects brain.


The human brain is a marvel. We possess the ability to reshape and reform the very stuff of it. It's called Neuroplasticity. Think of your brain like a pumice stone. Your thoughts and intentions are water. Repeated thought carves a channel in the stone, forming a pathway. But that pathway isn't permanent. Choosing to practice Gratitude creates a new channel. The old one begins to fill in. So if you have lived with stress and trauma, choosing to live with gratitude can change the very nature of who you are.


And it is so easy. Grab a paper and pen. Once a day write down something you have been grateful for. Something that sparked a moment of joy. Just sit with it and remember. As time moves on in your practice., set what we call an intention. For today, I will be grateful for the food on my plate, the fresh air outside, the mad joy of my children/dog. What ever you choose. And be so. In the words of Yoda, there is no try.... only do.


Mindfulness and gratitude have kept me from my occasional homicidal implulse.... you know who you are ( bad drivers). And it is simple and easy to start.

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