Be Thankful: Its Powerful and it Can Help Your Trading

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Dr. M. Woodruff Johnson

08 Dec, 2017

in Psychology

Have you ever felt down and out; like life itself was falling from you and it seemed like a major effort just to take care of the everyday mundane things?  Of course you have it’s called being human.

No one that I have ever encountered in person or in the media has been perfect.  No one has been able to lay claim to have each and every day be a shining example of everything working out just as they wanted.  We all have set-backs, challenges and improvables; it is a part of life and living.  OK, be that as it may, no one wants to feel dejected, depressed and overwhelmed.  Today, I’d like to share a concept with you that can literally change that dark cloud over your head to reflect the bold brilliance of the sun as it illuminates your path to happiness and well-being.  That one concept, among many, is gratitude.

The simplicity of gratitude cannot be overstated in that it is one of the precious principles that will feed your soul and lighten your load as you navigate your path. The simplicity of gratitude cannot be overstated in that it is one of the precious principles that will feed your soul and lighten your load. One of the main features of gratitude is that it can help you feel more connected, relaxed and optimistic.  There is a song that opens with a phrase something like this: “When I’m worried and I can’t sleep, I count my blessings instead of sheep…I fall asleep counting my blessings.”  Written by Ray Wylie Hubbard, it’s been sung by many artists over the years and it is revered as a sure-fire way to bring you out of the dumps and into a space of gratitude and appreciation.

Of course, Ray Wylie Hubbard’s iconic lyrics are not the only wildly popular ones that celebrate the power of gratitude.  There have been scores if not hundreds over time.  This approach to dealing with adversity works quite well.  Another thing that happens when you express gratitude is neurotransmitters and brain chemicals are released like dopamine, beta endorphins and the love drug oxytocin.  All of these cause you to experience greater well-being, higher self-esteem and a general sense that everything is going to be OK despite the issues at play in that moment.

When you express genuine gratitude, your system is more resilient and robust.  When in the space of being grateful your ventral vegus nerve becomes activated and your ventral vegal tone is made stronger as evidenced by your heart rate variability increasing, which has a direct impact on your cardio vascular health.  The vegus nerves constitute two pathways of your parasympathetic nervous system; which are part of your Autonomic Nervous System that takes care of so many of the involuntary and critical parts of our system like beating your heart and controlling breathing.

The other pathway right next to the ventral vegal nerve is the dorsal vegal nerve.  It is the “slam-on-the-brake” part of your parasympathetic nervous system.  It becomes activated when you are in an imaginary or real grave danger and it shuts the system down like a “deer-in-the-headlights.” Traumatic events can cause an immediate purge of your digestive system, as in urination and defecation, along with dissociation (quite often associated with sexual abuse) and depersonalization (often connected with severe stress and anxiety) all stemming from the activation of the dorsal vegus nerve.  Heartfelt gratitude can activate the ventral vegus nerve, counteracting the trauma response and initiating a calm all over your body which promotes a greater sense of social safety.

Melody Beattie wrote in her book, Codependence No More, “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”

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