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Mindful : December 2018
Start by observing. Notice the thank yous you say. Just how habitual a response is it? Is it a hasty aside, an afterthought? How are you feeling when you express thanks in small transactions? Stressed, uptight, a little absent- minded? Do a quick scan of your body—are IT’S GOOD FOR HUMANITY It’s relatively easy to feel gratitude for help offered when we’re in need—a stranger who stops when you have a flat tire, the neighbor who watches your kids when you have to run out, the friend who makes you soup when you’re sick. And starting to dig into what moti- vates that stranger, that Feel It Building your capacity for gratitude isn’t difficult. It just takes practice. The more you can bring your attention to that which you feel grateful for, the more you’ll notice to feel grateful for! Those researchers at Indiana University did a fur ther study. Using an fMRI scanner, they compared brain activity in the gratitude letter- writers with those who didn’t write a letter. The letter-writers showed greater neural sensitivity in the medial prefrontal cor tex, a brain area associated with learning and decision-making—and the effect persisted three months later. “Simply expressing gratitude may have lasting effects on the brain,” they concluded, noting that practicing gratitude can lead to greater sensitivity to the experience of gratitude in the future. And that bodes well for everyone. you already physically moving on to your nex t interaction? Pick one interaction a day. When your instinct to say “thanks” arises, stop for a moment and take note. Can you name what you feel grateful for, even beyond the gesture that’s been extended? Then say thank you. neighbor, that friend can help us see the larger picture, and how we are interconnected. It may be harder to parse the motiva- tion behind our smaller interactions. The last time you held the door for a stranger, you no doubt did so because that’s just what people do. Still, can you see how even that tiny gesture ripples outward into some- thing much bigger than any one of us alone? ● TRY THIS: Say What You Mean SHAMBHALA PUBLICATIONS Enlighten your inbox: shambhala.com/email 4720 Walnut St. | Boulder, CO 80301 shambhala.com full-price books, audio, and individual courses with code MNDFL131 through January 31, 2019. Mindf ulR eaders receive 20% OFF Say What You Mean Say What You Mean “A powerful guidebook to thinking, speaking, and listening with authenticity and care.” — Sharon Salzberg “Full of practical exercises that develop powerful communication and mind- fulness skills, this timely and engaging book shows us how caring, curiosity, and connection can transform people’s lives, even in the face of aggression.” —Susan Kaiser Greenland Oren Jay Sofer You Mean “Full of practical exercises that develop Oren Jay Sofer You Mean “Full of practical exercises that develop Oren Jay Sofer December 2018 mindful 19