The more grateful people are, the greater their overall well-being and life satisfaction. They’ll also have stronger immune systems, lower blood pressure, better sleeps (and better waking). They’ll be more alert and more generous, compassionate, and happier. Grateful people also have a greater capacity for joy and positive emotions.
Why is gratitude important? (And don’t say ‘because it changes your brain’. We knew it was important before we knew about
Gratitude involves noticing the goodness in the world, but it doesn’t mean being blind to the tough stuff or the mess that can get all of us from time to time. Gratitude makes sure that in the midst of the things that serve up a good dose of negative feelings, we don’t lose sight of the good. Here are some of the ways gratitude turns up the volume on the feel-goods.
It strengthens our connections with people.
Gratitude is an acknowledgement that something meaningful has been done for us. It’s an open-hearted, deliberate recognition of the generosity of the giver. Of course, we can also be grateful for broader things that haven’t necessarily been ‘given’ to us by someone, such as our health, a safe place to sleep, or friendships. As with material things though, showing gratitude for the less tangible things in our lives stops us from being seen as ‘entitled’, or a ‘freeloader’, neither of which generally add shine to social relationships.
It lets people know we aren’t the type to take things for granted.
There are two types of people. Those who wave thanks to people who let them in in traffic, and those who don’t. Each invite their own response from the world. Gratitude shows that we’re good to be in a relationship with, and that we appreciate certain things, without expecting them.
It reinforces generous behaviour.
Gratitude reinforces generosity from the giver and from the receiver. When there is an open display of gratitude in our relationships, both people are more likely to repeat the giving, and the open-hearted receiving. The effect of this is not only from person to person, but can ripple into the world.
‘Gratitude rewards generosity and maintains the cycle of healthy social behaviour’ – Antonia Damasia, Director of the BCI and Dornsife Neuroimaging Institute at Unversity of Southern California and professor of psychology and neurology.
It increases feelings of security and connectedness.
Gratitude helps us notice the good that comes from outside of ourselves. We see the good in the world and in the people around us, increasing our feelings of security and connectedness.
It keeps the feel-goods around for around for longer.
Positive emotions tend to be like Teflon – they slide off us way too quickly. Gratitude lets us hang on to the positive for longer, and celebrate the good in our lives that we might otherwise move on too quickly from.
It squeezes out negative feelings.
It’s impossible to feel grateful and negative at the same time. The more space gratitude is allowed to take up, the more it will expand itself and make way for other positive emotions – connection, happiness, appreciation, joy. More good feelings means less room for the toxic ones.
It helps with depression.
Research has found that gratitude can help with depression and increase positive feelings. Enough said.
Gratitude – it’s more powerful with the things you do than the things you own (even if what you own is lovely).
Research has found that we tend to feel more grateful for experiences than for things we have. There doesn’t seem to be any clear reason for this, but one of the theories is that experiences are less likely to trigger social comparisons. While ‘things’ can seduce us into comparing what we have to what other people have, experiences are more likely to shift our focus to our own personal circumstances, and expand feelings of appreciation, happiness and contentment.
The science of gratitude. How does gratitude change the brain?
When the brain feels gratitude, the parts of the brain that are activated include the ventral and dorsal medial pre-frontal cortex. These areas are involved in feelings of reward (the reward when stress is removed), morality, interpersonal bonding and positive social interactions, and the ability to understand what other people are thinking or feeling.
Gratitude also has the capacity to increase important neurochemicals. When thinking shifts from negative to positive, there is a surging of feel-good chemicals such as dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin. These all contribute to the feelings of closeness, connection and happiness that come with gratitude.
But consistency is key.
Gratitude builds on itself. We know the brain changes with experience, so the more that gratitude is practised, the more the brain learns to tune in to the positive things in the world. This isn’t something that tends to come naturally. We humans have a negativity bias, which means that we’re wired to notice threats in the environment. This is a good thing – it’s kept us alive since the beginning of us – but as well as being alive we also want to be happy. When there is too much of a focus on the negative, gratitude can be a way to nurture a more positive focus, and teach the brain to spend more time on the feel-goods and less time hanging on to the things that scrape.
With the brain primed to notice the negatives, we need to not only teach it to tune into the positive, but also to hold those positives for long enough to have an effect. Our default position is to let the good slide off us fairly quickly, so we need to be deliberate about holding on to it for long enough to change the brain. Rick Hanson has done plenty of work in this area and has found that holding (focusing on) an experience for 20 seconds is long enough to create positive structural changes in the brain. Gratitude gives space for the positive experience to expand, or for us to ‘re-experience’ it, rather than having us move quickly move on from it.
Gratitude has the added power of initiating a social loop that has the potential to expand the good for everyone involved. The more gratitude we feel, the more we’ll act in a prosocial way towards others, which will encourage their feelings of gratitude which will make them more prosocial … and so goes a beautiful cycle of gratitude.
How do I practice gratitude?
There are plenty of ways to practice gratitude, but however it’s done, it’s important that it’s done with consistency and novelty. Our brains like novelty. They love it actually. They quickly adapt to anything that stays constant. This is why the joy we feel for things that have us swooning in the beginning, soon lose their shimmer. Our brains adapt and when they do, they go looking for the next special thing. Gratitude can change this. With gratitude, we’re constantly giving our brains something new and positive to focus on (provided we practice gratitude for different things, not the same thing). Being grateful for the same things every day, even if they are important and worthy of enormous gratitude, won’t have the same effect on the brain as finding something positive and new each time.
As for consistency, it sounds easy enough to practice gratitude consistently, but if negative feelings tend to cosy up to you to quickly, it might be more difficult than you expect. To work around this, start small. Things that take more effort will always seem further away and more difficult – that makes sense. The more difficult they are, the less likely you’ll be to see it through. Here are some other ways to practice.
3 things a day, for 21 days.
For 21 days, write down three things that had happened in the previous 24 hours that you’re grateful for. They can be things in the world or things that have happened in yours, and they can be as big or as small as you want – the breeze on your skin when you walked, a warm bed to sleep in, coffee when you woke up. According to Harvard happiness researcher Shawn Achor, doing this for 21 days will train your brain to look at the world in a different way. It will start to scan the world for positives instead of for threats. It’s important that the things you find in the world to be grateful for are new and specific. So rather than, ‘I’m grateful for my friends’, try, ‘I’m grateful for Sally because of the way she made me laugh today.’
Take a positive experience …
Whether it’s a text you received, or catching up with someone you like, find a positive experience and spend two minutes writing down every detail about it. Write them in list form and do it for 21 days. According to Achor, as you remember positive experiences, your brain labels it as meaningful and the imprint in your brain deepens. The brain can’t tell the difference between an actual experience and a visualisation so calling on a positive experience after it’s happened doubles the feel-good in your brain. The idea is that after 21 days it will become a habit and it will change the way your brain looks at and receives the world.
Write letters (it’s okay – you don’t have to send them).
Spend 20 minutes a week writing a letter to someone you’re thankful for. Whether or not you send it is up to you. The effect of this stays for months after the initial exercise. Researchers described the changes in the brain as ‘profound’ and ‘long-lasting’. One of the changes were a greater sensitivity to gratitude. What this means is that noticing the good now makes it easier to notice the good later. The more good you notice, the happier you’ll be.It’s just the way it works, and practising gratitude is a simple way to work it.
And finally …
Gratitude rewires our brain so we become more likely to focus on the positives in the world than the negatives. We’re not going to become ignorant of danger if we appreciate the positives for a little while but we will become more open to the good. Our brains will always seek the things that keep us safe, but we also need the things that nurture our happiness and emotional well-being.
The above content has been taken from: http://www.heysigmund.com/the-science-of-gratitude/
Support your child’s learning — at home!
You want to help your child develop their literacy and numeracy skills, but working out how can be tricky. How do you find activities that reinforce and build on the concepts and skills your child will encounter in the classroom?
The answer: this website. Everything here supports the Australian Curriculum for primary school, and is child (and parent) friendly.
Browse by your child’s year level, or search for a topic, and the website will suggest ideas, activities, games and videos you can use to support your child’s learning.
This is a great website sponsored by the government to help parents to support their children’s learning. Click on the below link to access this website.
Removing Head Lice and Nits
With a number of families recently needing to deal with head lice, we thought we would take the opportunity to revisit some facts about head lice and offer one of our favourite ways to treat them.
At a glance:
- Head lice and nits only live on human heads.
- They don’t care if the hair is long or short, clean or dirty.
- Head lice are an unavoidable fact of life for all school-aged kids.
- The best and cheapest way to remove them is with inexpensive conditioner and a nit comb.
- You will need to re-treat your child several times before all the eggs will be gone.
Mention head lice and most of us instantly develop an itch. You’ll find these little critters at every school across Australia – and probably the world – at some point during the year.
While head lice and nits, (the eggs of head lice) are certainly annoying and persistent, they’re not dangerous. Here’s everything you need to know to rid your kids of head lice and nits.
Did you know…?
- Kids with head lice don’t always scratch. The only way to rule out infestation is to look carefully through your child’s hair.
- Head lice are only found on the human head.
- Head lice and nits live in long, short, curly, straight, clean or dirty hair.
- They are not found on family pets.
- Head lice do not live on furniture, hats, bedding, carpet or anywhere else in the environment.
- Head lice don’t leap or jump. They crawl from hair to hair, from one head to another.
- Treating anything other than the human head does not get rid of head lice.
- There is no way to prevent your child from getting head lice.
- You may be able to help reduce transmission by tying girls’ hair back and braiding it.
- Never use insecticides, methylated spirits or kerosene on your child’s head.
- Some essential oils, including tea tree oil, can trigger a reaction in some people. Tea tree oil is a proven antiseptic, but its effectiveness as a head lice treatment has not been demonstrated.
- You don’t need to use an expensive commercial product.
- If you do decide to use a commercial treatment on your child’s head, read the instructions very carefully.
Removing head lice and nits
- a bottle of cheap hair conditioner
- a towel
- a thick tooth comb
- a fine tooth comb
- a roll of paper towels.
- Sit your child on a chair or stool in front of you. Wrap a towel around their shoulders to catch conditioner spill. (You may want to put a video or TV show on, as this process can take a while.)
- Apply a cheap, pale coloured conditioner generously to your child’s hair. Work it through to coat every strand of hair. For long hair, it may be easier to tie one side of the hair off, and work in sections.
- Head lice breathe through small openings along their abdomens. By coating the hair and therefore the louse in something thick and slimy, these openings close over, shutting down the louse’s breathing for about 20 minutes – long enough for them to stay still and be combed out.
- After you’ve applied the conditioner, use a large comb to part small sections of the hair, starting from the nape and working upwards toward the crown.
- When the hair is detangled and manageable, use a fine lice comb and run through each section several times. Eggs are often found behind the ears and toward the back of the head. By combing from the bottom of the back of the head up, towards the top and front of the head, you’re more likely to find the head lice.
- After each comb out, wipe the conditioner on the paper towel. If your child has head lice, you will see them on the towel (they’re a little like small, brown, chia or sesame seeds.)
- Keep combing each section of hair until no further lice or eggs appear on the paper towel. Often you will see lots of old egg casings that may take a while to remove.
- Once you have combed and re-combed each section of hair, either re-plait or tie it back if it’s long enough.
- Head lice often congregate on the crown of the head, so it’s not until you reach these last sections of hair that you’ll find adult lice. However, heads that are severely infected will have adult lice everywhere.
Repeat at least twice over the next few days, until you can’t find any more in the conditioner. You’ll never be able to get all the head lice and eggs out the first time. However, in the days after your first treatment, the eggs will hatch and you’ll be able to catch the crawling nymphs (young lice).
Almost every family will experience the joys of a child with head-lice, at some time during their school years. When it does happen, we advise you to stop, take a deep breath and reach for your big bottle of conditioner!!
Taken from: http://www.schoolatoz.nsw.edu.au/wellbeing/health/removing-head-lice-and-nits
CLICK HERE: A great article on GETTING KIDS TO SLEEP
Every now and then I stumble across a website that I really want to share with others and this is one of those.
Here you will find a series of excellent articles written to support well-being in both children and adults. I thoroughly recommend you take a look when you have some ‘couch time’! Enjoy!