Over the course of the last few weeks, I’ve discussed different ways to encounter more “lucky” moments, or moments where an unexpected positive happens. Some of what I’ve discussed so far include finding greater luck by being thoughtful and organized, being mindful of our environment, and working toward lucky opportunities and experiences.
This week, I’d like to discuss the importance of allowing ourselves to accept and appreciate these good or lucky moments, even if the moment itself was something that we put time and effort into making achieve. Often, when something lucky happens it’s too easy to shrug it off and move on with our lives instead of appreciating it.
When we take the time to acknowledge and express gratitude for a “lucky” occurrence, it acts as a reward. Our brains love these little rewards and give us a small hit of dopamine in return. Dopamine is the feel-good chemical and it serves to lower stress, which in turn lowers blood pressure and heart rate. It’s literally healthy to take a moment and express gratitude.
In turn, the more we get into the habit of expressing gratitude, the easier it gets and the more often we receive that uplifting boost. Even better, it can bring joy to those around you as well.
The next time something lucky happens to you, take 10 seconds to express gratitude. Say you find a dollar in a coat pocket. Or, that lip gloss you’ve been looking for turns up under the seat of the car. Maybe someone pulls out of the perfect parking spot right as you drive up. At that moment, take a deep joyful breath, smile, and say or think to yourself, “Wow, I’m so glad that happened.”
We’ve got a few extra challenges in our house. Between spectrum disorder tendencies and intense introvertedness, it’s always been hard for our kiddos to express gratitude, like at all. As a parent, it makes me less willing to do special things for them because it might be a completely thankless use of my time. Teaching the skill of appreciation and gratitude in our household has to be lots of learning by example, meaning I have to be very clear about what I’m doing and why if I want them to catch on. It also means teaching them in a very obvious way and literally saying things like, “I did something nice for you that I didn’t have to do. Say thank you and smile to let me know that you are glad something nice happened to you.” As they’ve gotten older, I’ve seen more gratitude as they’ve learned how much it’s appreciated.