We have a choice of we view the world. Transform your perspective and author your own life-story with a gratitude practice.

We are master filterers. At any given moment we are being bombarded with a deluge of sensory experiences. We learn from a very young age to filter out the majority of that sensory information in a process called selective filtering for a most-basic reason – survival. If all of the sensory experiences that we were being exposed to were not being filtered, our system would become completely overloaded and we would short circuit.

Similar to filtering out sensory experiences, we’re also filtering the world for evidence that supports our worldview. If we tend toward optimism, we could experience every micro-situation with an optimistic bent. Missing the bus is an opportunity to walk and get some fresh air, getting a cold is a welcome message to take a break and rest, getting fired from a job is a chance to start something new. Whether you tend toward optimism or pessimism can change your entire worldly experience.

What science is now showing us is that we have a choice in how we view the world. You have all had the experience where you’ve gone and done something with another, or with a group, and at the end someone says “man, that sucked”, while all-the-while you were thinking how awesome it was; two people can go through the same exact experience and, based on their worldview, have two separate experiences. What is groundbreaking is that we’re now learning that we have a choice of how we view the world. We are not victims of the circumstance of our lives – we’re authors of it.

In positive psychology researcher Shawn Achor’s book The Happiness Advantage, he sheds light on his revolutionary research which shows that we have the ability to rewire our brains for happiness. Through a practice of gratitude, we can change the way that memories are stored in our mind and, over a surprisingly short amount of time, train our brains to pick up on the positive aspects of situations rather than the negative. The benefits of living a life through an optimistic lens are multifold yet straightforward: optimists remain healthier and live longer lives. Specific benefits include:

Increased life span

Lower rates of depression

Lower levels of distress

Greater resistance to the common cold

Better psychological and physical well-being

Better cardiovascular health and reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease

Better coping skills during hardships and times of stress

This holiday season, challenge yourself to rewire your experience through the simple yet effective practice of gratitude journaling. Every evening, take 2 minutes to go through your day and recall experiences that stick out. No matter the nature of the experience, draw to mind the aspects of it that you can be grateful for. Remember the moment in detail – what you were wearing, where you were sitting or standing, and who you were with. The more detailed the better, as this process is what is hard-wiring the memory in a positive light. Recall 3 such instances and jot them down in your gratitude journal. You can make the process special by getting a new notebook and pen to write with, or you can use something you have lying around. Either way, stick with it for a month, and see the benefits for yourself. We’d love to hear how the experience went for you – please share in the comments below!

Wishing you and yours a joyous holiday.

Liz Smith

Concierge + Master of Celebrations, Pursuit Concierge

Liz is New England native now living in Seattle. She is a unique mix of MBA, folk herbalist, and self-care advocate. As concierge and Master of Celebrations at Pursuit, she is able to combine her business know-how with one of her greatest joys in life – helping others.