00:00 You’re listening to the live happier, longer podcast, episode 17.
00:15 Welcome to the live happier, longer podcast. We’re your hosts, Molly Watts, and Angela McDade. We are here to help you build the habits of the happier, longer life. Starting now.
00:28 Hey Angela. Hey Molly. How are you? I’m grand. Excellent, I’m Grand as well. Uh, we just wouldn’t be a podcast without me asking you that. That is true. Yeah. So here we are recording again, just the two of us and today we are going to be focusing on, well we’re right, we should, I guess you’d say we’re right in the middle of the holidays. Yeah, it’s, you know, the Thanksgiving kind of starts the holiday season here in the US and you know, here on out. Here on out and it’s a good time of year to reflect and also I think plays right into our daily action. Number four, give. And we really wanted to do this episode on the benefits, the health benefits of gratitude, which is what daily action number four give is all about, is expressing gratitude. Yup. So let’s have a chat about gratitude.
01:26 So we have discovered in all of our research, we’re continually researching here, there and everywhere to just glean all this information, but we found different ways that gratitude actually rewires your brain and it has all these health benefits. Yeah, I’m loving this whole rewiring. You know, we talked a couple of weeks ago about mindset and the power of the brain and I’ve been really going on this path about really wanting to dig deeper into how our brain actually works and rewiring it for, um, a more optimistic, positive outlook. Yeah. It’s, it’s so important that if you can set yourself up right, and this positive mind set it, it the rewiring, is it’s a bit like we’re always talking about creating these habits. It’s something that you are continually doing and then it, it happens in a much more natural way. All of our habits actually help your brain get rewired.
02:28 Literally all of them do. And 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 woo woo, I mean it’s probably perceived as much that right? Gratitude, but it’s also, it’s not just, it doesn’t just give you the right now, 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. 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.
03:34 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 that’s not, you know, just like, uh, what you hear. Oh, it, it’s gonna, you know, it doesn’t really take a rocket scientist to think to myself, practicing gratitude would be a good thing, right?
04:33 It’s going to make me a happier person that doesn’t know that that’s intellectually probably make sense to most people. 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, it went in, it impact 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 and throughout their illness they, some of them did this gratitude journal and when they would ask about their pain levels, the ones who took part gratitude gratitude journal, the, the reported less pain, which there was nothing else changed about the program or anything else or their care or anything.
05:39 And here they were, by simply doing the gratitude journal, they experienced less pain. Yeah. And the next one that was connected to the hypothalamus and is 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 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 in 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, but even just when you think about it, if you think writing and thinking about reflecting on your date and thinking, you know, that was a great thing that happened today.
06:50 Just even seeing it right now. You go ahhh…and then you go to sleep. It’s like even just thinking of the action gives you a 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. Yeah, the writing and the writing down. Just going to make it a uh, 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. 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 yet actually say this is proven yeah, and I think that’s why we have, have appreciated all this all research that we have looked at.
07:59 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, it really put really, really? Yeah. Why? 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, they’re really as well and it’s reasoning behind it all. Yeah. And I think it just, it also makes it, um, you know, repeatable, right? It’s not him. He’s not some, you know, he’s not a magic person, he’s not, well, what do they say? Uh, you know, he’s not a magic unicorn or whatever, you know, he’s not a, he’s not just a special unicorn.
08:51 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 I’m the last two. Well, the 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’ve 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. You can rewire your brain, you can’t undo genetics 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, reduce depression and anxiety was something that has been proven by using gratitude.
09:47 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. We’ve, we’ve, we’ve spoken about that, in when we did our alzheimers talk when we were talking about exercise, not only is it good for you mobility, but it’s good for your brain because if it’s good for your heart is 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, are interlinked. So here we are, gratitude.. Yeah. 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. Yep. You know? Right. So they are all interlinked. And, and this one is, we love when we can connect all those dots.
10:46 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? 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. Yeah. Yeah. So we want to dive a little bit more into some, some lessons we’ve learned about gratitude and really kind of developing that habit of gratitude.
11:43 And one of the first things that we learned or we really like about practicing this on a daily basis is looking for areas in your day, every day that are joyful or something that makes you sit back at the end of the day and go, oh, that was great. Yeah, I am so glad that happened. Or I’m so glad for that moment, for that person for that. So the art of it, even if you had a terribly bad day, the art is being able to find those moments that within the day, because even though you’ve had a bad day, but if you can find those moments that you can at the end of the day go, you know, what maybe today didn’t go as planned, but this thing that happened was really great. And the, the whole changing your mindset to look for these things that takes great practice and we have. We listened to someone and her whole thing was that she started to notice things and she really then made a point of looking for things.
13:01 So it’s one thing going I’ve had a bad day, thinking back on what was good about it. But if you actually seek out these things then then like the keep cropping up. It’s like you notice it and then you noticed it again and it’s back to. We did our whole podcast on mindset about if you’re going to buy a new car and then all of a sudden you hear, you see that particular car all over the place is because you’re starting to notice. So once you start to make the effort to notice these things, then all of a sudden they’ll just crop up all over the place and I think you’re talking about it’s the designer. Yes, her name was Ingrid Fetell Lee, and it was during a Ted talk, a Ted that we listened to her and she talked about it. I love this because she was talking to Guy Raz who, if you haven’t listened to any of the Ted talk radio hour or how I built this, I don’t mean just fantastic podcasts, but I’m Guy Raz is the host of both and he talked about something that gives him joy and that he loves and it’s his orange bike.
14:16 Yeah. And she was saying how when you attach joy to something like that in your life, right? And it just makes you happy every time you’re out on and Guy was saying, every time I’m out of my orange bike, it makes me happy. And she was saying. And that kind of also extends idea, right? So people then start seeing your, your orange bike, and it brings them joy. Right. That whole idea in this kind of grey landscape of the news that we get bogged down in and some stuff that you know and let’s, let’s call a spade a spade, there’s some stuff going on in the world that’s tough, is not good. Right. And so dwelling in that space or allowing your, you know, is not going to have help you either a. affect change or b. Help other people. So you need to, you need to find your orange bicycle, right? You need to find your orange bicycle or your colorful.
15:12 Well, and she talked about hummingbirds, hummingbirds who came into and you and I can appreciate that. We both have. On our back deck. Yeah. We both have these amazing flowers that grow. Hummingbird attraction plants. And these little hummingbirds and I don’t think I ever saw a hummingbird in Scotland. It’s probably too cold. They would just freeze and die! I don’t know if I did now that, I think of it, but here we have like four or five hummingbirds all buzzing around at the same time. So it’s not just one little guy that you see now and again, it’s a haven. Yeah. And you’re the same, you have a magnificent big tree. A pink Mimosa tree, which is just spectacular in the summer and I get, you know, tens of hummingbirds at the same time. It’s really incredible. It’s, you’re mentioning Scotland, which this has nothing to do with Scotland, but it’s thinking about me growing up and I grew up in Iowa and one of the things that I miss about the midwest that is one of these off one of these things is a firefly. Which again, I have never seen that I, oh my gosh, I love the idea. Oh my gosh. I love lightning bugs, fireflies, whatever you want to call them.
16:30 I miss them so much in the summer. One of the best memories I have of being a kid in Iowa and the summer is that time at night when it’s just starting in the summer and it’s just starting to get dark and you start to see one firefly and then a couple more and then suddenly there’s just. It’s, it’s dark enough and you can see. Just darting around. Yeah. Anyway, I digress, but it’s us definitely. Whether you know, but it’s a good. It’s a good, it’s a good lesson. You know, those things. Those moments, even just remembering that right now. Yeah, just gives you that warm glow. Yeah. Right. And I can be grateful for the memory of it, which is pretty powerful too. Yeah. And one of the other things that she said was to, to look for things and I happen to be listening to this particular podcast while I was on a two hour drive and I looked out the window and there was an eagle sitting at the side of the road and you just go, wow.
17:26 Yeah, look at that. And he’s just right there. Yeah. He’s right there. And that kind of brings us on to another guy who spoke about Awe and the wonder of things and the gratitude of the wonder and, and looking at that Eagle sitting at the side of the road just on this wire fence, that surrounded a field. And there’s this amazing creature just sitting there. But this particular journalist, um, oh gosh, I can’t remember his name, but he, we’re going to link to all of this and we will link to the two ted talks that he referenced here. But his awesome thing that he found was the Eclipse and he was an eclipse chaser and he, the first one you went to watch was in Aruba and he just described the expedience and after that he basically, he now. He wanted to. Yeah. He now, spends his life chasing eclipse.
18:26 Yeah. Punctuated by eclipse. And we were lucky enough, two, not not summer there, the summer before we would in the path of the path. 17. Yes. We were in the path of totality and we actually got to expedience that amazing awesome, truly awesome thing that is the eclipse, but not only did we get to experience that, but living out here in the northwest, we have a lot of opportunities. Yeah. I was saying that was talking to you about that. I mean, you know, the eclipse comes around but once, you know, many, many years. But one of the things that we probably take for granted is the ocean. I don’t, I mean, I don’t think I take it for granted. I, whenever I’m there, we’re not there that often. Right. We’re not there. But every time I’m out there. And especially like for people that live in the Midwest and who don’t have the opportunity to make some people have never seen the ocean.
19:26 We have often rented like homes out on the coast where you have like 180 degree view and you can actually see the curvature of the earth. Yeah. And it’s, it’s hard to, like, It’s hard to believe that you can see that until you you see it right? And it’s quite clearly you can see it. Yeah. And it’s just, it is awe inspiring. And I think his point was find.. find something. Seek Awe to create that moment of joy. I mentioned earlier to you before we started recording that recently I got the opportunity to fly from Portland to spokane, I usually drive that trip and there’s great awe in the drive as well. The Columbia gorge is something that’s incredible, incredible views there, but I’ve got to fly and I got to fly in a smaller commuter jet. So we were at lower level. It was very clear day.
20:22 And so we passed over all of these mountains, Mt. Saint Helens, which is, you know, was devastated by a volcano, Mount Adams, you know, all of these and at an elevation where I could see. Almost reach out and touch them. And oh my gosh, talk about awe, I mean just the awe and like you mentioned, we’re lucky here in the northwest. We’ve got all these mountains around us, Mount Hood, every, you know. Like, on our drive to take the kids to school. We see it on the way. Yeah, it’s pretty. In Fact, our Kids elementary school, the, the playground has this. It was like a picture frame of the mountain looking at it from the playground. So yeah, we’re fairly lucky in that respect. Fairly lucky in that respect. But you can find awe, and his whole point was, you know, he’s chased, chased eclipses all over the world. Seek out something that awes you, you know, I, I mentioned to you, I’ve flown over the Grand Canyon quite a few times and going there, I mean the grant, if you have a chance to fly over the Grand Canyon, you really should go see it truly.
21:26 Awesome. Yeah. It’s awe so. But that’s another, no matter what it is, that’s just a way of developing this attitude of joyfulness. And gratitude is seeking out awe. Yeah. And the presenter, we were talking about Guy Raz, he say he has his description of joy was that “joy lays the groundwork for a richer life and deep connections with the world around us.” And that’s surely what these. Awesome. Yeah, expediencies do. And then these little moments of joy that we can seek out. And so one of the things that obviously to, to do this, you just, like we mentioned, you have to be mindful about it, right? So you can look back, like you said, going back and reflection on the day or you can get into the habit of stopping looking and go go. Yeah. And this was something that was again, a part of one of the Ted talks on gratitude specifically.
22:28 And this was from a Franciscan monk, I want to say that’s correct, but I’m not positive. He’s Franciscan brother, David Steindl-Rast, but he, he was wonderful and he really talked about how developing an attitude of gratitude, how wonderful it will be for the whole world, because when you come from a place of gratitude, you know you’re, you’re coming from a place where you want to share. Yeah, you’re not coming from a scarcity and fear. You’re coming from respect. And the, his, his description of a gift was something that is given to you. It’s like if you’re given a birthday present or whatever, so it’s a gift that something is given to you, you haven’t earned it? You haven’t done anything to achieve it. It is purely a gift. But his point was that every moment is a gift, so we should be grateful for it. Yeah. And every gift, every moment is an opportunity.
23:30 And, and he was. What I liked about him a lot was the fact that he wasn’t like saying, you know, you got to be grateful for war and famine and you know, there’s, there’s, that’s nonsense. You can’t be grateful for those things, but you can be grateful for the opportunity to learn something, even the hardest moments from the hardest things, but you really have to stop and listen and then go. You need to focus your mind and you really need to start making a mindful decision to be grateful everyday and to look for these things every single day. Yeah, we have a lot to be grateful for here as we head into the holidays. You know, both of us have four children and they will all be home for Christmas, for Christmas, which is wonderful. We can’t wait to share that holiday time with our family and with our friends.
24:19 And we’re very grateful for everyone that listens, that has kind of been growing with us along the way of five for life. Um, as we head into the holidays and next year we’re going to be looking ahead in January. Um, it’s a time of New Year’s resolutions. Well, you know, you never want to say I’m going to do resolve to anything, but the fact of the matter is that January is often a time where people reflect back on the year behind them and they look ahead to what they want to achieve and to make positive changes and so we’re definitely looking ahead at what we want to achieve in 2019. And really it’s all about creating this, this optimistic outlook in this positive mindset. And so we just appreciate the support that we’ve received. We appreciate where we’re headed as we’re headed into this season of giving and receiving, The giving and the receiving. Just couldn’t wait to say that. Good job. Um, we hope that people can find time to be grateful for what they have. Yeah. So just take a pause and find the gratitude. With that, we will say, thanks for listening and we hope to see you again next week.
25:42 Thanks for listening to the live happier, longer podcast. Now it’s time to move, learn, share, and let go. Five daily actions to make the rest of your life the best of your life. See you next week.