Ep. 32 – The Brain Boost of Giving Thanks

I spend much of my days, both personally and professionally, in the world of words. This last week, I received a handmade card from a longtime friend, and it led me to reflect on the gift of words. These unexpected outreaches, when given to us, are memorable not just for the words that we received but for the time invested by the other person to make the effort to extend those words to us. 

In our digital days, it’s easy to be in skim and scroll mode – getting our social interactions from screens. I can know a lot about what’s going on with you without having to ever actually speak to you. 

During the holidays, we see this crushing consumerism to buy in order to give. The Bottom Line on Top of this quick episode is that the moments taken to share a message of thanks are far more memorable than any item that can fit in a box or be added to a cart. 

My good friend Andrea Driessen calls these efforts ‘grace notes.’ In her TEDx talk called “Eulogies for the Living,” she encourages us to give the gift of words to one another. A hospice volunteer, she often heard the whispered wishes of words left unspoken. The power of words is a key part of Episode 18 which offers up seven words that can potentially change your life. 

Gratitude is a gift that gives back to you as well. A psychology study about a decade ago showed that capturing grateful highlights before bedtime actually helps people sleep better, and longer. 

It’s also a notable brain boost. When the brain feels gratitude, the reward center brain is activated. The act on gratitude by extending thanks can also increase important neurochemicals such as those feel-good ones like dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin. 

Gratitude is a multiplier. Episode 7 explored the nuance of neuroplasticity and how the brain changes with repeated experiences. So the more that you actively give thanks, the more the brain is programmed to look for positives experiences.  So as you see them, share them. It’s an important imprint in your mind. 

A quick outreach can have a lasting impact. Don’t overthink the words because the gift is the effort itself. A short note that says “Hey, I was thinking of you and wanted to send a note of thanks.” Is all that’s needed to make a deposit in the bank of goodwill – for them and for you. 

Hopefully this quick collection of words has inspired you to think of someone to thank. The 19th-century poet Ralph Waldo Emerson said: “You cannot do a kindness too soon because you never know how soon it will be too late.”

As you’re thinking of grace notes that are yours to give, think also of the effort and the gift it is back to yourself when you do so. Thank you for spending some time exploring things. I appreciate it and I hope you take good care. 

Your brain is hungry. Give it some intellectual snacks in the
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I'm Kristin

I left my corporate work and dove further into how to navigate this noisy, digital, exhausted world. The result is a methodology centered on communications, productivity, and culture that blends theory with practice and helps people better enjoy the life they worked so hard to get.