Why are we so bad at being thankful?

Hear from Janice Kaplan who spent a year getting good at gratitude

Like author Janice Kaplan, most of us have been blessed with much, but fall short in expressing gratitude for it.

A desire to be happier led Kaplan on a year-long commitment to live gratefully. At Norton Healthcare’s free July 19 “Go Confidently” event, she’ll discuss her journey to joy, captured in her New York Times best seller, “The Gratitude Diaries: How a Year Looking on the Bright Side Can Transform your Life.”

As Kaplan explains, living gratefully is simply about attitude and perspective — or, rather, changing your attitude and perspective. Living gratefully is a state of mind.

Being doused with a cold stream of dirty water on the way to a Manhattan business meeting is hardly the setting in which gratitude could arise. But that’s exactly what happened for Kaplan.

As she stood dripping wet on the busy corner one winter morning, she realized that the incident was actually an opportunity, not a trial. Quickly, she was grateful that the incident occurred just around the corner from her favorite store. Soon, she was wearing a cute new outfit and on her way to her appointment. And her stylish new clothes proved an effective ice-breaker in meeting a prospective business partner for the first time.

Simply making lemons out of lemonade? Somewhat. Kaplan believes that living gratefully means making conscious choices in response to life events.

Whether it’s deciding to focus on breathing deeply when the airline loses your luggage or realizing that being fired means that a former boss can no longer harass you, you have options for how you react.

Practicing gratitude can be a natural antidepressant. When we take the time to think about what we are grateful for, certain circuits in the brain are activated. Production of dopamine and serotonin increases, and these neurotransmitters then travel to the “bliss” center of the brain — similar to the mechanisms of many antidepressants. Practicing gratitude, therefore, can be a way to naturally create the same effects of medications and create feelings of contentment.

The more you stimulate these neural pathways through practicing gratitude, the stronger and more automatic they become.

At her ”Go Confidently” event on July 19, Kaplan will provide simple suggestions for incorporating gratitude into your daily life and strengthening those neuro “muscles.”


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