00:00 You’re listening to the live happier, longer podcast, episode 57
00:15 Welcome to the live happier, longer podcast we are your hosts Molly Watts and Angela McDade. We are here to help you build the five habits of happier longer life and to create your habit mindset. Starting now.
00:29 This episode is brought to you by the five for life planner and the 30-day ultimate habit building system. We are so excited to have you join us in January, 2020 our very first 30 day habit building challenge because we all know how important habits are. Yeah. They’re not resolutions that are broken before you’ve even set them. Yeah. Because it’s the quality of your habits that determine the quality of your life. Absolutely. So whether it’s health, career, relationships, you name it, our system is customizable, repeatable, and designed to help you succeed. So go to shop.Fiveforlife.co that’s shop.fiveforlife.co. click on the 30-day ultimate habit building system to learn more.
01:17 Hi Angela. Hello Molly. How are you? I am well. Excellent. Are you getting ready for Thanksgiving? Yes. This is the time where we get everyone together and take a moment to appreciate all the things. That, yeah, I am super appreciative and grateful this year because for the first time since 2011 my second oldest is going to be home for Thanksgiving. Yeah. He hasn’t been here. He’s played sports in college and was never, yeah, and he was of course on the East coast, so you know the expense of that trip. Now he’s a got a big job making his own money and he wanted. He’s a real grown up! He wanted to come home for Thanksgiving so badly. He’s still coming home for the holidays too, but he hasn’t been home for Thanksgiving for many, many years and he’s really looking forward to it and we’re of course super excited to have him here as well. He gets home tomorrow morning. Oh, very nice. Yeah, so this episode is coming to you the day before Thanksgiving and so we thought it’d be especially appropriate to look back at some of our conversations on gratitude. It’s daily habit number four for us give, it’s all about expressing gratitude and being thankful all the time. Every day. We’ve had some great conversations about it over time. In fact, I think next week you’ll be hearing some more about gratitude with another conversation, but we thought especially important today as we are all taking a moment tomorrow to be, you know, a day, right. To be thankful. But hopefully it’s just the start of practicing and yeah, practicing gratitude and thankfulness.
03:01 So our very first conversation, a full-length conversation about gratitude happened way back in episode number 17 but we loved it. It was a while ago. Yeah. Because it was all about the actual science of gratitude and how it changes your brain. Yeah. Which is, you know, everybody no, right. Understands that. No, it’s pretty exciting. We thought it was pretty exciting then. We still think it’s pretty exciting now. And here’s that little clip from episode 17.
03:34 One of the things that daily action number four we were super excited to find out is that gratitude isn’t just like a feel good, right? It’s not, it’s not. Woo is, I mean it’s probably perceived as much that gratitude, but it’s also, it’s not just, it doesn’t just get you the right, no, this moment feel good and then it’s done actually has long term benefits. Yeah. And those health benefits are actually related to things that happen in the brain, scientifically proven. A study done by the national Institute of health back in 2009 showed that gratitude actually impacts two areas of the brain specifically. So the first is the hypothalamus and expressing gratitude activates the hypothalamus. Now the hypothalamus is critically responsible for a lot of things that go on in our bodies. So it regulates your appetite, your sleep, your temperature, your metabolism, and your growth, which are very important.
04:38 Yeah. And it was proven that gratitude actually expressing gratitude and feeling gratitude actually activates the hypothalamus. So that’s pretty powerful right there, that you can actually influence your body’s function by practicing gratitude. Yeah. Yeah. And the other way is by practicing gratitude activates dopamine in your brain, which gives you the natural high. So that’s, that’s like the instant thing that you feel is that dopamine where you just, you get that feel good and it’s what keeps you wanting to do it again. Right? It builds the habit because you’re like, Oh, I want to feel that again. Your body does anyway, naturally. So, but those two things, I mean, those are science. This, that’s not, you know, just like, uh, what you hear. Oh, it, it’s going to, you know, it doesn’t really take a rocket scientist to think to myself, practicing gratitude would be a good thing.
05:37 Right? It’s gonna make me a happier person that doesn’t, you know, that that’s intellectually probably makes sense to most people. Yeah. But this is, it’s hard wiring, which I’m like totally into right now. I’m really like into this whole being able to rewire your brain. One of the things that it proved, like I said, went in, it impacted these, these two areas of the brains and that actually created health benefits down the line. So one thing was decreasing pain levels. Yeah. So the part of the study was the looked at patients who were experiencing pain and throughout their illness they, some of them did this gratitude journal. And when they were asked about their pain levels, the ones who took part in the gratitude and the gratitude journal, they reported less pain, which there was nothing else changed about the program or anything else or their care at, at anything. And here they were by simply doing their gratitude journal, the expedience lace pain. Yeah.
06:50 And the next one that was connected to the hypothalamus and is, you know, something that we’ve talked about a couple of times was a better sleep. Yeah. So the hypothalamus regulates sleep and obviously, you know, the, the link between gratitude, the hypothalamus and better quality sleep, uh, again was proven in a different, a different study. But that link is there. And we’ve talked about a couple of different times about the importance of sleep and most importantly been proven to delay the onset of symptoms of Alzheimer’s. So, I mean, sleep is critically important and here is proof positive that a gratitude journal or our planner, right. We have evening reflection, which if you did that at night, right before you went to bed, every night, just wrote down something that you were grateful for.
07:42 but even just when you think about it, if you think right and thinking about reflecting on your day and thinking, you know, that was a great thing that happened today. Just even saying it right now, you go, ahhhh, and then you go to sleep. You know it’s like even just thinking of the action gives you that sense of relaxation and you know, so you can understand just physically how that could help you sleep. You know, let alone any of the, the writing and the writing down. It’s just going to make it stronger. Reaffirm it. Another part was, and this again seems pretty obvious, but stress relief. People that express gratitude find that they are letting go of and we’ve talked about that. How really daily action number four, give and daily action. Number five, let go. Kind of go hand in hand.
08:38 Yeah, these are all things. What I love about this is I’m a big being pragmatic like I am. And the non woo woo part of me, I love facts. I love things that, that actually say this is proven. Yeah. And I think that’s why we have, have appreciated all this, all the research that we have looked at. It’s one thing, originally this all came from you looking at how your dad lived his life, which you can go, Oh great, he did that, that worked, let’s do it. But then going back and researching and going, Nope, but really, why?. Yeah. By him doing all these things, does it work? So finding out the science behind it just is so, it’s just so interesting and it’s so nice to see that it’s not just because, you know, there really is well and it’s reason behind. Oh yeah.
09:38 And I think it just, it also makes it, um, you know, repeatable, right? Yes. It’s not him. He’s not some, you know, he’s not a magic patient. He’s not, well, what did they say? Uh, you know, he’s not a magic unicorn or what have, you know, he’s not a, he’s not just a, a special unicorn. He’s not somebody that, we can all do this. It’s very, and the science behind it shows that we can do it. So, yeah. Um, the last two, well the first, next one was, um, reduced depression and anxiety. And this is something that I shared a little bit about earlier in our social media that there’s a link between, you know, this rewiring of the brain, even if you come from a family history of depression. And I have a lot of that on both sides of my family. So, and my kids, you know, people have struggled with it.
10:28 You can rewire your brain. You can’t undo genetics. Yeah. If you have a predisposition to actual depression, but you can take steps to offset that genetic disposition and to have that be less impactful in your life. So this again, reduced depression and anxiety was something that has been proven by using gratitude. Yeah. And the last one is increased energy and vitality. The one thing we love about the five daily actions is none of them truly stand alone. And we’ve, we’ve, we’ve spoken about that and when we did our Alzheimer talk, when we were talking about, uh, exercise, not only is it good for you and mobility, but it’s good for your brain because if it’s good for your heart, it’s good for your brain. Here we are. Gratitude is good for your brain. You know, it’s like all of these things, the old are, are inter linked.
11:26 So here we are, gratitude Increases your energy. And that’s, I mean, so therefore you can move like they’re all, they’re all interlinked and if you are grateful for the things you have and the people in your life, there you go. Yup. And it’s to share, you know? Right. So they are all interlinked. And this one is, we love when we can connect all those dots. Yeah, it does. And it’s super powerful. And like we say all a lot of the times it isn’t always easy, but it is simple really. Right. W and we know, but developing habits, changing your mindset, changing any habit that you have is not easy. It takes time and it takes practice and it really takes daily focus. And that’s why we’re so passionate about, you know, these five daily actions and taking the time to focus on these five areas every day. And it doesn’t mean you’re going to be perfect every day and it doesn’t mean you’re going to make the change overnight. But by doing these five, you know, by focusing on these five areas, being mindful in your intention, you can create the habits of a happier, longer life.
12:35 Well, I think we were really onto something even back then, building the habits of a happier, longer life. Go figure. So one of the other conversations we had about gratitude happened in episode 39 when we discussed Brene Brown’s book, the gifts of imperfection. And one of her guideposts for living a wholehearted life is cultivating gratitude and joy. And I loved, I still chuckle about her this, some of the comments in this, um, this particular segment. Yeah, here is our conversation about Brene Brown.
13:13 Guidepost Number four is the cultivating of gratitude and joy. So obviously, yeah, can’t tell all about that. Yes. She says letting go of scarcity and fear of the dark being joyful doesn’t mean that you’re happy all the time. Yeah. And I think that’s the thing that she talks about that and this, this chapter about being happy and being joyful. It’s not a permanent state. And even just kind of going back to the resilient spirit, um, they kinda go hand in hand and that is, you know, like you hear it, you don’t appreciate the good until you’ve had the bad a lot the time. So, so life is all about these, you know, ups, downs, ups and downs. And if they were always up, then you wouldn’t, you wouldn’t have any appreciation for the up, but when, when bad things happen and you get through it, you just then appreciate the good things. And that is one of the things, um, she found in her research as a lot of these people found the little things in life. It wasn’t the, Oh, I’m so glad I got this great job. I’m so glad I’ve got this great house. It was, I’m so glad I get to sit out in my backyard and enjoy listening to the birds. You know, it’s like it was people who truly, um, these wholehearted living people that she found they had gratitude for the little things in life because they had these ups and downs.
14:48 And she talks about practicing it. And I’m not gonna be able to remember if it was, I think it was in the book. I’ve had a lot of Brene Brown, right? We’ve had a lot of Brown overload. But I think it’s in the book. She talks about having a, a practice of gratitude. And of course we talk about that being a daily action. We have it in our planner and our journals as a place to write it down every day. And why people, you know, why gratitude journals have actually been shown to increase longevity. Um, she talks about having a practice, she says, and she talks about the fact she says, I share an and a practice as opposed to an attitude, right? So we talk a lot about an attitude of gratitude. Yes, but she talks about the practice. She talks about herself. She says, you know, I kind of have an attitude that I would like into or that is very aligned with yoga.
15:42 Yes. She like this. Yes. This was in the book. Yes. It was very, I’m very mindful. I have a Yoga attitude, right. I have a spirituality. I like to calm. I like deep breathing. Everything about yoga. Yes, I am that. I am that. She said, in fact, I even have yoga outfits. I have yoga pants. I have a yoga with you. She goes, however, do not mistake for a minute that I have a yoga practice because I have not been on a yoga mat ever though. She was hoping to get that resolved before this book came published, but I loved the analogy because that is exactly it. You can have an attitude all day long, but it’s the actual practice of things. Yeah. That is what cultivates this wholehearted life and what we would call a longer, happier life. And we have spoken about it before. And you know, until you practice it, you don’t become. Right.
16:47 You know, it’s like I run, therefore I am a runner, right? I paint, therefore I am a painter. Right? So it’s just that, you know, until you do, right, you are. Yes, it doesn’t really matter. Right. And we’re, that’s, you know, the habits. It’s, it’s, you know, we all know I am the, the atomic habits, James Clear. You don’t rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems. And that’s really what this is too. It’s not about having this attitude, you know, you can set goals, you can be this, but if you don’t do, if you don’t have the habit, yeah, you aren’t. Yeah. So anyway. All right, so cultivating gratitude and joy. I think we both, we understand that and you know, it’s more than a rapid mode of thinking. That’s the, yeah, she says that.
17:33 So we commented then about the habit versus, and the practice versus just having an attitude kind of a mindset, right? It’s, it’s a, it’s a doing thing. It’s a doing thing. And we really hammered that in episode 49 when we talked all about building the habit of gratitude. And I wanted to talk, look back on when I very first really started noticing gratitude or, or understanding this idea of practicing gratitude. And that’s kind of where this conversation started.
18:07 And I remember when I was first exposed to the idea of practicing daily gratitude and I guess maybe I remember it because I was home with kids and watching um, TV watching Oprah. And I remember her interview with Sarah Von Bronnock, how you say her name doesn’t look like that, but the author of simple abundance, which was published in 1995 and in 1996 Oprah picked it as her favorite book of the year. And it pretty much catapulted the book and Sarah to pop culture. Yeah. Icon status
18:43 She has an interesting story. She actually got very rich from that book, which was contrary to the simple abundance. Right. But then she lost it all. Oh. And she’s come back and she’s on, she’s been on Oprah again afterwards, how she came, you know, rebuilding herself. So anyways, I digress. But that’s really where I remember that uh, idea of practicing daily gratitude, uh, being something that I had never really considered or focused on. And I remember specifically Oprah’s quote and I’ve said this, I’ve, if I’ve said this to my kids, I don’t know how many times cause I really do love it. It was really striking for me. Right then she said, if you are grateful for what you have, you will always have more than you need. And if you are always wanting for more, you will never have enough. And it just makes sense.
19:34 Right? Well it’s that comments, you know, one of the things you hit in the head and you’re like, Oh yeah, if I am grateful for what I have right now, I’ll always have enough. Right. But you don’t necessarily, especially when you’re, I don’t know, when I was young and I was busy trying to, you know, at first climb the corporate ladder, then, you know, get the house, get the, you know, I don’t know. It seems like you’re always. I think when you were younger, you’re always striving to improve whatever that may be. Right. So you always feel like there’s always more room for improvement where there’s that, you know, for us more children, evidently we were just keeping score. Um, but you know, like at a bigger or a nicer house, nicer cars and it all came with as you, you grow.
20:26 Right. I guess, I guess. Yeah. But it’s funny because I think even then if we had really stopped and thought about it, you know, if we were grateful for what we had, um, you know, I think we were, and I think people do. I think in general people are, if you ask people, they’ll say, Oh yes, I’m very, I’m a grateful person. I’m very grateful for what I have, grateful for my health. I’m grateful for my life, my kids. But it kind of for most people I think still sits in the background of their life. Yeah. I find because we were moving around so much, um, we, we thought about it a little more because, sure. Because we were moving around so much and it was, we always thought, Oh gosh, how did, how did we here? You know, from, from our little houses that we lived in, from our first house when we first get married in Scotland, you know, where we went over the years, we lived in different countries and many different houses. And so we, without really thinking about what we were doing, we did, take a pause and think about, yeah, how did we get here? And gosh, isn’t this wonderful? You know.
21:38 I think I did. I just don’t. Maybe I’m sure I did. Like I said, I think I’ve felt grateful, but I don’t know that I, I certainly didn’t have the, the understanding that I do now, and that was that circumstances were not deciding how happy I was. I knew I could choose gratitude, but I didn’t really understand that by choosing different thoughts. I could actually create the feelings that I wanted and the feeling of gratitude. And I think as well, the whole point, it’s voicing that gratitude, that’s, that again is one of the things that, I mean you can be thankful all day long, but the actual voicing of it is a very significant part in what comes from being grateful.
22:27 Right. And it’s also that expression of gratitude is what, uh, creates optimism for people. And that optimism is, is what has been proven to really increase longevity. So it’s a subtle difference in terms of understanding that you can’t wait around for your day, your week, your month, your life to get better. Yeah. And then for you to feel grateful and to say then you’ll be grateful. You have to practice gratitude daily and then your day, your week, your month, your life will actually be better. Yeah. So anyway, even though I became more, like I said, became more aware of practicing gratitude back in the 1990s, I certainly didn’t make it a daily habit and I didn’t know that there was science or anything to associate with it. Uh, in terms of longevity, of course back then I wasn’t really concerned about longevity cause I was young, right.
23:17 And I did. Yeah. Just was one of those after thoughts. Anyway, when we started researching for five for life, um, I was really excited to find the links between gratitude and longevity back in episode number 17 of the podcast, the science of gratitude, changing your brain and improving your health. Uh, we first talked about this and we shared some of the ways you can increase joy in your life. So yeah. Um, that’s a great episode. So we’ll, yeah, we’ll link that in the show notes. But, um, today we want to focus again on gratitude, but we really want to talk about how people can build the habit and why it’s the consistency of that habit that, um, really lends to, uh, well that creates all those benefits, the benefits.
24:00 So here’s a quote. Being grateful goes beyond thankful. Studies are showing that a daily gratitude practice can help you be healthier emotionally and physically. Scientists are currently doing a deep dive into how gratitude affects the brain and they are finding that it can help with depression, decrease fatigue, and reduce inflammation in the body. So that whole reducing inflammation thing. Yeah, we’ve, we’ve spoken to so many people who that’s what they focus on because it’s the root of so many diseases the body reducing inflammation is key. And we’ve talked about it because most chronic diseases and certainly all those, what we would call killer diseases are diseases of inflammation. Uh, in heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, high blood pressure. Uh, the more you can reduce the risks of developing these diseases, uh, the longer you are likely to live. Pretty simple.
25:03 Obviously that talked about the health benefits of gratitude, which does it? The physical benefits. Yeah. We’ve talked about that before about how it’s more than just what you get out of it in the moment and how you feel well and good in the moment, but it’s the long-term impact and it does actually has been proven to increase longevity and from those health benefits. Right.
25:25 So lastly, we just wanted to close this episode out. Uh, sharing some of the quotes that people have told us about gratitude in their lives. Yeah. And it’s, it just kinda came up naturally in a conversation. Exactly. Cause we have had podcasts specifically about gratitude, but these ones were kinda, just part of the conversation that gratitude was important to these people and it played a big part in their lives. Right. And it just underscores exactly what we’ve said is that it is an important part of living a happier, longer life. And these people shared the same sentiment. So here’s what some of our guests had to say about gratitude.
26:08 This first one is from Katherine Nikolai, who is the host of nothing much happens. Bedtime stories for grownups podcast, fantastic podcast. If you have not listened to it, go try it out. Uh, here’s what Katherine said. “I have a regular habit of just paying attention to good things wherever I can see them because we have this negativity bias in our brain, right? Things that are scary and upsetting. They get stuck in our brain like Velcro, Velcro, but good stuff just slips right through. So in order to perceive the world with any kind of reality, you actually have to go and look more closely at good things and try to realign the balance. So it’s a habit of mine that can be as simple as you step outside and it smells good and you think that’s nice and you just take a moment to feel that it was good. And if you’re thirsty and there’s a glass of cold water and you drink it and it feels good and you think, Hey, that’s nice. So I have this habit of doing that as much as I can every day. So then once I start looking for that stuff, I see it everywhere.” Yeah, I mean, right. Yeah, it’s gratitude everywhere. Yeah.
27:18 So our next quote is from Lala LaLanne, who is just the 93 and amazing, amazing lady. And we came in initially we were a whole conversation with her was how to keep moving and our fitness. She was the wife of Jack LaLanne, who was, you know, the fitness icon. And she, although we were talking about her, the physical movement, she spoke about gratitude and she said. “Oh I thank God every day. I mean, if I can’t find something and I’m looking around for it and I find it. Oh, I say. Thank you very much. I’ve always, I have gratitude. I overthink people and I think that it’s important for people to know. Everybody likes a little Pat on the back, you know, and it takes just one little thank you. If somebody does something for you, have gratitude.” Yeah. She just, she, she just embodied it. She was so, she was so wonderful.
28:25 Um, Susie Gammon, uh, uh, blogger who created her blog well later into life over 70. You know, an interesting decision to start that. Um, and she talks a lot about aging in that blog. And here’s what she shared about gratitude. “I think if you’re out there trying and taking risks and trying to keep your sense of humor as things fall apart and change, gratitude is the best thing you’ve got going for you. You know, whatever you have. And it’s something that you can practice mindfully when not much is going well. I mean, we all have the opportunity to be grateful. Not in a petty way, but in a real meaningful way. I mean, we may not, we may have to think about people who have passed. We may have to think about this, that, or the other thing every one of us can do that can focus on gratitude. I think it’s just a big bonus for our souls really.” Yeah. And Susie had some, a lot of rough things happened in her past that she, she had to, she had to work through and get over and having this sense of gratitude in our life truly helped her. For her soul. Yeah.
29:34 So, and then another one of our quotes is from Maria Olson and again, someone who had a lot of challenges in her life and had to really, re-calibrate? Yeah. Yeah. And she said, “I would say one of the lifestyle changes was starting each day with an attitude of gratitude. Every day I write down, I think five things, which I’m grateful, usually more than that, from the profound to the prosaic. And it can be simple as a fact that I can walk my mother just had hip surgery. It’s laborious when she walks. I don’t take that for granted anymore. And framing your day with an attitude of gratitude makes every single better.” For sure. For sure.
30:24 Our last one is from our conversation with John Leland, which we just had not too long ago. And from his, the elder that he, one of the elders that he spent a year with, uh, Fred Jones. And this is John Leland talking about Fred Jones. “So what did Fred give thanks for? Another day? You know, something so simple, not, he wasn’t giving thanks because he got that big check came in or you know, that he had wall-to-wall running amorous adventures because he didn’t have that at that point. There was so much missing from his days. You know, he couldn’t do so many of the things he had once done, but he recognized that that moment he was in right now, he had everything he needed at this moment. So you know what makes a good life as we get older, maybe it’s a great cardiologist, but maybe it’s a sense of gratitude and if you have the choice of those two things, I think probably the person who has a sense of gratitude has a better life or may have a better life than the person who has a great cardiologist.”
31:29 Yeah. And it’s back to your outlook in life. Right. And if you can reframe things in a positive light, then it makes life so much more pleasant. Yeah. Yeah. And I think one of the people who highlighted that was brother David Steindl Rast and he said “it’s not happy people who are grateful. It’s grateful people who are happy.” Yeah, absolutely. One of my favorite quotes about gratitude is pretty simple and that is, there is always, always something to be grateful for. I think we will leave you all with that. Have a very safe and happy Thanksgiving. We will see you next week. I’ll see you then.
32:13 Thanks for listening to the live happier, longer podcast. Now it’s time to move, learn, share, give and let go. Five daily habits to make the rest of your life the best of your life. See you next week.