Updated: Feb 23
This week’s challenge is a simple but really powerful concept. I want you to practice the Five Fingers of Gratitude for an element of your training that you’re struggling with.
All you need to do is find 5 (or 10 fingers worth if you want!) things that you’re grateful about related to that session whilst you do it.
How does practicing gratitude help?
Our brains overwhelmingly default to seeing things negatively. For example if you ask for feedback, your brain will give far more weight to negative feedback. On average you would need about 3 pieces of positive feedback to just balance out one negative piece, and 13 pieces of positive feedback to each negative one to actually see the overall feedback as positive.
When we lived in caves, our brains were had this negative bias to help protect us from risk, but that part of our brain was only concerned with surviving, rather than thriving. To get the most out of life we need to overcome that negative bias and see the positives.
But we can change this – Neuroplasticity is the ability of networks in the brain to change, remap, and grow. Which is a grand way of saying, that among other things, we can change the way we think. Remember, our thoughts are not fact!
Our thoughts are like streams on the beach. Imagine a network of streams on a beach – the water takes the easiest path to the sea. Just like our thoughts taking the most well worn path.
If we start thinking more positive thoughts, it’s like digging a new channel down to the sea. We can widen it by thinking more positive thoughts, and what feels awkward and forced at first, starts to become more natural and rewarding.
Remember last week we looked at unpicking the thoughts we tried to lock in the drawer. Often we only focus on the things we like least about something. In the example of me going for a run, I was only remembering how cold I would be at the start, rather than remembering how I warmed up and enjoyed the rest of the run.
By deliberately adding my Five Fingers exercise at the end of a run I am helping myself to the see the positive things I enjoy, and next time I think about going for a run, it’s much easier for me to see all the good things, to counter balance a few minutes of cold at the end.
Isn’t gratitude just toxic positivity or lying to myself
No, it’s not about lying to yourself, just helping you to see a more positive or balanced view. Remember your negative thoughts are not facts, they’re just opinions. As are the reasons to feel grateful. But I know which I would rather focus on!