Friday, March 10, 2017

Feel Gratitude

My friend Bo sent me some cool info recently. Turns out UCLA neuroscience researcher Alex Korb has some insights that can create an upward spiral of happiness in your life. One finding: the most important question to ask yourself is, What am I grateful for?

Feeling grateful activates the brain stem region that produces dopamine, a chemical released during pleasurable situations. 

Feeling grateful can boost serotonin production in the anterior cingulate cortex. Serotonin is a chemical responsible for maintaining mood balance.

Awesome.

I am grateful for the fun of spreading some acrylic paint, making a bunch of marks, making another bunch of marks, affixing collage, making a few more marks, and playing with chalk and oil pastels. Oh, and paint pens, too.


pmmp-2 with ; work in progress

10 comments:

  1. Thanks so much for reminding me each day to be grateful! It is such a positive way to start the day, grateful that we do have a new day to start and are lucid to realize it. I think whenever I feel things are getting overwhelming to switch to what is good. It is wonderful to try and capture the time when you could just pick up a brush with no thought... have you found a way? Although I loved the monochromatic version, I love your new additions of color and spice. My eye drifts to the black and white pattern. Love those very subtle oranges. Was all this just spontaneous?

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    1. I do a daily 21-minute meditation immediately after lunch. One element of the meditation is to tick off on my fingers 10 very specific things for which I am grateful within the past 24 hours. An important part of the practice is that I include things for which I don't spontaneously feel grateful, e.g. "I am grateful for the uncomfortable irritating conversation I had with [name] this morning, even though I don't know why." I feel a shift, a moment of healing.

      You write, "It is wonderful to try and capture the time when you could just pick up a brush with no thought... have you found a way?" and I reply that I have no sure-fire "way." I do mindfully slow myself down, breathe deeply, set an intention, and pay attention to inner spaciousness—that can be a gateway. Another gateway is messing something up so much that I get a burst of annoyed recklessness : )

      Thanks for your feedback on the color and spice. I like that b&w pattern—its a bit of collage torn from a small sheet of paper on which I offloaded excess paint on my brush using a stencil. I love the very subtle oranges also.

      Was all this just spontaneous? It certainly wasn't planned!! Started with some scribbles, then some paint, then whatever occurred to me next, and next, and next.

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    2. Thanks so much for your reply. I think the problem is with setting the intention. Will try to set time for 1. Meditation and 2. being grateful specifically. I really like your example of a sort of negative gratitude.

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    3. Just writing to you about my 'negative' gratitude above shifted me in my thinking about the precise example I shared—like using negative space to paint changes the whole picture : )

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  2. Love reading your commenet convo as much as your post. Don't know how I missed this. I always give thanks at night before bed. I need to remember to do it in the morning as well. Thanks for the reminder :) Love this fun piece, and the energy and fun that is so apparent :) At the bottom, I see a church, with a glorious hill behind it. I love it all the more knowing that it is completely unintentional. :)

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    1. The comments convo has been terrific, as it is so many times at our blogs. Great classroom for art and life.

      Love that you spied a volunteer church with a glorious hill behind it. It'd be fun to take this piece and make it an improbably paired aerial view of a patch of land (looking down from above) and ground view of the buildings on the patch of land (looking at ground level towards them).

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  3. It's a wonderful conglomeration of spontaneous and free colors and energy! I love what you said about being grateful. I can't count high enough to say all the things I'm grateful for. And sometimes, like you said, it's even for things that sometimes you might have otherwise thought of as a pain! I think it was Wayne Dyer who said (paraphrasing) "Change how you look at things, and the things you look at will change". I love that. Perception is so powerful!

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    1. And, as painters, we are looking at and perceiving and changing how we perceive all the time—such a life gift!

      Loved all your comments above, Laurie.

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  4. I'm catching up on the posts I've missed recently, so I'm just seeing this one now. I keep a gratitude journal, which I try to make time to write in every day. I don't have any rules, other than to write 3 to 5 things that I'm grateful for. When I first started doing it, I thought it was hard. Now, I have a hard time stopping at 15 or more. :)

    It has helped me see just how negative my mind can be, and ever since I started the gratitude journal, I've started looking for things to write down throughout the day. I think being grateful for even the smallest thing is important now. It helps to focus on the positive, and less on the negative, and I think that's what being grateful does..for my brain, anyway.

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    1. Katie, love that you shared this. Same is true for me—as soon as I began a conscious gratitude practice, I realized I was attuned to finding and noticing in ways that hadn't previously been so. And, as I mentioned in another comment, I nudge myself to express gratitude even when I don't feel it; it's very freeing to say, "I am grateful that our car broke down and we missed the show we were going to, even though I don't know why." Truly, even if I'm saying "Hell if I know what I could be grateful for here," about something, as soon as I say that I usually laugh, and I feel some opening, a greater sense of possibility.

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