It’s a holdover from the caveman days that we instinctively do what we need to do to keep ourselves safe. Consider it to be like our “threat radar”—we wouldn’t have evolved without it. But according to Dr. Julia Sen, a registered clinical and counselling psychologist in Toronto, that radar can get a little out of joint in the world we live in today, where we needlessly look for what could go wrong (this is especially true for so many parents!). Fear not: Practising gratitude is a super-effective way to help shift the focus to what is good in our lives, and away from thoughts of potential threats. And believe it or not, it can be beneficial for your mental health in less than three minutes a day.
This gratitude practice allows the brain to find the positive and gives us the edge we need to live happier, more peaceful lives. It has been shown to increase our dopamine (motivation), serotonin (happy) and oxytocin (love) hormones.
So how does it work? Every morning, sit down with your kiddos and take turns saying three things you feel grateful for. Take one minute to feel gratitude for each item on the list. The items can be the same day after day, or you can look for new things each morning; the trick is just to seek out the good in your lives.
Is the morning just too hectic? Gratitude practise works just as well before bed.
Originally published in ParentsCanada magazine, Fall 2018