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Challenge: Gratitude & Giving

Train Your Thanks-Giving Brain With the 15-Second Rule

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Fascinating stuff here as we slide toward our annual day of thanks.

Researchers have found that people who practice daily gratitude live longer, are healthier, happier, they have better relationships, and they’re more productive in the workplace. They have deeper faith, do more good in the world, and are less stressed.

So why aren’t we doing more of this?

It’s all about our brains, which work against us in this way. They are hard wired from way back to be slick like Teflon for positive events and sticky like Velcro for negative. In caveman days, this helped us survive, but in modern times, it does not help us thrive. So, we need to overcome that.

This week, as Americans gather around tables and give thanks, try it a little differently than you might typically. An easy way to start is with the 15 second rule.

Research shows it takes 15 seconds to plant a positive thought in those Teflon brains of ours. So, we not only have to notice something good - we also have to spend 15 seconds savoring it. Savoring is the key.

Start today with an everyday thing and focus for 15 seconds. Maybe it’s the car that cranked up and is getting you from A to B. Or a person you get to share a meal with. Or the hot shower that sure beats a cold one. Or close your eyes and consider the gift of 15 breaths that you get to take today while someone else out there fights for just one more.

Notice a few things throughout your days and focus on their benefits. If you’re a person of faith, lift that thanks on high to your Creator, which adds even greater potency to the process. The more you do this, the more it becomes a habit, a way of thinking. A way of being.

Then bring this to the Thanksgiving table, and teach your people to do it, too. Ask everyone to talk about one good thing for 15 seconds. Bask in it. Experts say spending more time on one good thing outweighs glazing over multiple things in a list.

It’s a practice that makes good times better and hard times more bearable. It has saved me again and again at my most brutal times. So get good at it now - this week - when the table calls and the opportunity to see blessings is ripe. Thanksgiving, indeed.

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