Friday, September 29, 2017

Gratitude First- Guest Post by Tara Martin

I am so excited to have Tara Martin write a Guest Post for Kindness180. Tara's positivity is contagious! I am so excited that she decided to share her Gratitude First challenge with us all. Get ready for a real treat as we hear from Tara. :)

Gratitude First- By Tara Martin

Staci Erikson recently began a #Kindness180 Challenge and she gives two reasons for launching the challenge.

First, there will be a total of 180 acts of kindness posted throughout the year. While I hope you join me for as many as possible, there is no requirement to do one each day, and they don’t need to be completed in any particular order. Basically, you just pick the challenges you want to do on days you want to do them and go for it!
The second reason for the 180 is that when someone has “done a 180,″ it means they have changed their behavior or thoughts about someone or something. There will be kinds acts that may challenge you to do a 180 throughout the year. As an example, while it is often easy to show kindness to those we love or care about or when we see others in need, it may require a 180 in our thinking to show kindness to someone who has hurt us. Let’s be honest.. we may not always feel like showing kindness to a particular person, but it is important to remember that kindness is not a feeling, rather it is an action.
So, Staci asked me to share my daily act of kindness called #GratitudeFirst.
Even though Gratitude First is small and relatively easy to implement, the effects of this little act of kindness are astoundingly transforming. (Gratitude First is simply sending a "Thank You" email each morning as the first email.)
I'd like to take a minute to elaborate how this simple task will chemically rewire your brain and that of the recipient.

Rewire Your Brain

Gratitude boosts the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin--just like the prescription drugs Wellbutrin and Prozac. It's wild, but being grateful literally changes the chemicals in your brain and works like anti-depressant drugs.
What, WHAT?!
Thoughts are DRUGS?!
Basically. Well, they work just like them! When these chemicals are released in your mind, you begin to create synaptic connections that form a positive "web of thoughts" in the front of your brain. This positive feedback loop causes you to feel a sense of happiness and fulfillment.
The best part about this "natural antidepressant" is the fact that it's FREE!

Daily Dose of the Natural Anti-Depressant

As soon as I read about this in an article (linked below in resources) a while back, I immediately began searching for ways in which I might be grateful EVERY single day.
Email is often my nemesis. It tries to take over my life, and I'm determined to beat all odds and conquer it. (See my Zero Inbox post here.)
Since I dread checking email each morning, I decided to make my FIRST email EVERY day a "Thank You" email or as I like to call it "Gratitude First." I send them to various people and tell them how much I appreciate them and the work they do for kids. I send them to colleagues, custodians, bus drivers, PLN peeps, friends, and family. No one is exempt. It has changed my approach to diving into my email. It has also warmed my heart to get a reply or a hug with tears in their eyes saying how much that little tiny "Gratitude First" message meant to them. I mean who wouldn't want to receive a little love in the sea of chaos aka your inbox?

It Gets Better

As I was researching the chemical reaction in the brain regarding gratitude, I learned that simply remembering to look for appreciation increases the chemicals dopamine and serotonin in the mind.
Only searching for it?
Blew my mind! You don't even have to find something of which to be thankful, just searching for it stimulates your natural anti-depressant drugs! That's legit!
I've found this to be true as I'm searching for who to send my next day's Gratitude First Email. I want my thoughts to be authentic, so I'm constantly on the lookout for things of which to be thankful. As I see them or think of them, I make a note on my phone, type a text to myself, or voice memo a message so I can listen to it later. Let's just say my list is pretty long and I've begun sending two Gratitude First Emails most days.

Train Your Brain

If our thoughts control our brain and our brain controls every organ in our body, it would be wise for us to choose thoughts that positively affect our entire system--not just our human body system but the culture of our school system. Gratitude First is an easy applicable task with far-reaching outcomes.
Isn't it often the little things in life that make a big difference?
What little "Gratitude First Everyday" habit can you put in place?
How might this little habit affect the educational system?

More Gratitude Opportunities

Of course, check out Staci’s #Kindness180 Challenges here.
You might want to check out Dave Burgess's #Tlap #Gratitude Challenge here.

Tisha Richmond and I will be starting up the #GratitudeSnaps Challenge again in November 2017. Be on the lookout; you don't want to miss this!

My Gratitude First Email habit was inspired by this article.
PS I love the fact that this article totally supports hugging.! #ImAHugger

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