Friday, January 4, 2013

Breaking Free of Negativity: Part 4 – Mental Filter

 

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In an audio system, a high-pass filter is used to direct appropriate frequencies to a tweeter while reducing the low frequencies that could damage the speaker. If you just used the tweeter, you would only hear the high frequencies of your music. With just these frequencies, music would sound thin. The low frequencies are usually sent with a low-pass filter to a woofer. When combined, the music sounds full and melodic.

Sometimes I unknowingly set up my own filter that directs only negative thoughts and interpretations to my brain. Using a negative-pass filter, I feel as though there is no good in the world.

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To counteract the negative-pass filter, add in a positive-pass filter. A gratitude journal can be that medium. By adding in a mode for the positive thought frequencies to be enjoyed, we can counteract the negative thoughts that make life dull and flat.

Jason Marsh, with UC Berkley's Greater Good Science Center, explains that over the years multiple studies have been completed on the impact of gratitude and specific practices that can impact health and happiness. Keeping a gratitude journal has been studied multiple times with varied results. While some studies report benefits such as better sleep, fewer symptoms of illness, and more happiness, other studies show that gratitude journals don’t work.

Wanting to understand more, he interviewed Robert Emmons, Ph.D. Dr. Emmons shared the following evidence-based tips to reap the best rewards from your gratitude journal experience:

  1. Don’t just go through the motions. Take the mental energy to focus on being happier and more grateful while you write your gratitude entry.
  2. Focus on depth rather than breadth. More benefit is gained from spending the time to delve into the details of one item for which you are grateful than by creating a superficial list of things.
  3. Focus on people. Contemplating the people that you are grateful for is more rewarding than focusing on things.
  4. Try subtracting. Focus on what your life would be like without certain blessings.
  5. Savor surprises.  Events that are surprising tend to carry stronger emotional weight.
  6. Moderation. People who wrote once or twice per week had greater increases in gratitude than people who wrote three to seven times per week. 

Dr. Emmons instructed to associate each entry as item as a gift. His exact instructions are:

Be aware of your feelings and how you “relish” and “savor” this gift in your imagination. Take the time to be especially aware of the depth of your gratitude.

In addition to the scientists, prophets have also expounded the benefits of keeping a gratitude journal. President Spencer W. Kimball invited us to record our blessings:

Those who keep a book of remembrance are more likely to keep the Lord in remembrance in their daily lives. Journals are a way of counting our blessings and of leaving an inventory of these blessings for our posterity. - Spencer W. Kimball (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 349)

More recently, President Eyring shared about the blessings that he has received from focusing on writing about the blessings we see in our lives:

As I would cast my mind over the day, I would see evidence of what God had done for one of us that I had not recognized in the busy moments of the day. As that happened, and it happened often, I realized that trying to remember had allowed God to show me what He had done." ("O Remember, Remember," Ensign, Nov 2007, 66–69).

You can take a 14-day gratitude challenge at thnx4.org. Not only is it a sharable gratitude journal, but it’s also a scientific tool that helps improve the world’s understanding of gratitude.

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Tips for Keeping a Gratitude Journal by Jason Marsh via greatergood.berkeley.edu

Ten Ways to Become More Grateful by Robert Emmons via greatergood.berkeley.edu

Stumbling toward Gratitude by Catherine Price via greatergood.berkeley.edu

Ways to Show Gratitude Daily via BYU Women’s Conference (2006)

thnx4.org

Gratitude via lds.org

1 comment:

Geevz said...

Love it! My husband would appreciate the acoustic analogy.