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The Gift of Gratitude

Throughout December I’ve been working half days on Wednesdays. Today was no exception and as I closed the clinic doors and stepped outside I was grateful for the bit of sunshine that was making its come back after almost a week of incessant rain in Joburg. As I stood waiting for Jospeh, my Uber driver, the sun dipped behind some clouds again and I could feel my mood dip along with it. I guess after a week of no sun my brains BDNF (brain derived neurotrophic factor) and my body’s vitamin D stones were low and so automatically making me feel blue. (I couldn’t emigrate to the UK). 😁 Joseph arrived and as I climbed into the back I asked the obligatory “how are you?” Now normally I expect the obligatory “fine and how are you doing?” But his answer brought me straight back to being fully present. He simply answered “I am blessed and how are you?” By Joseph (a 4.8 star rated driver) answering me in that way, it brought into sharp focus all my blessings and I realized that perhaps after a week of constant rain and South Africa’s new f word, load shedding, I had been focusing on the wrong things. I had a 10 minute ride to my destination and so while I was contemplating gratitude, and it’s ugly cousin complaining, my mind drifted to a podcast I had recently listened to. The guest on this particular episode asked the host if there was anything he could do to change the position of the sun in the sky. The host answered “no” and the guest then asked again if he was sure that no amount of complaining, moaning or negative thinking would change where the sun was in the sky? The host again answered “no” to which he replied why do we live our lives in such a way that we think complaining or worrying will change things that can’t be changed? This particular episode left a deep impression on me as I (like everyone) am prone to stress, worry, complaining and not always being grateful for my blessings. But at the end of the day no amount of stress, worry or complaining can change what is. It just makes us sick. Gratitude on the other hand increases dopamine production in my brain. It stimulates activity in my hypothalamus and increases serotonin production. It stimulates my feel good hormones, automatically making me feel better. Joseph and I didn’t exchange another word during the trip except a polite “thank you and enjoy your Christmas” as I climbed out the car into the sunshine that had made itself seen again. I walked away from the car with a gentle reminder that no matter what was going on around me, there was always something to be grateful for. Chat soon

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