So I’m one week into my #gratitude experiment. I’m not sure how long exactly I’ll extend it out (publicly, at least), but for now, it’s been and interesting exercise and I have a few observations:
- Only after one day of “working” to think about gratitude in my day, my mind started automatically coming up with things to be grateful for. Little things like being grateful for coffee in my morning, or my warm bed would just float into my conscious and make me realize how great I have it- even if I’m not getting exactly what I want in other areas of life.
- On the second day of the experiment I was walking downtown #yyj and a seagull decided to shit on me right before I went to a restaurant for dinner. I observed myself actually trying to get angry and forcibly generate self-pity, but then my mind switched to being grateful that I had an office downtown, and that I had access to a private bathroom to clean myself up in. That one surprised me as I actually observed myself trying to take the incident one step further and be cranky about it, only to experience an automatic switch to being grateful for that office.
- I’ve seen some positive effects of this experiment in my immediate network of friends and family. People are chatting about it, retweeting some stuff, emailing me, etc. — it seems as though gratitude is a bit contagious. In a world where media focuses so much on the negative, it brings me joy to see how one little act to dedicate a very small portion of my day to gratitude has spread into something bigger.
- In general, I find myself defaulting to smiling more and feeling more gracious to others in otherwise annoying social encounters with the public.
I remember learning about bounded rationality when studying entrepreneurship at UVIC. The theory can credit its origin to economics and human decision-making theory. We learned about it in relation to how bounded rationality creates entrepreneurial opportunity. The theory always stuck with me, though, as a general concept on the finite processing bandwidth of human consciousness due to the biological limitations of the human brain.
Basically, like any computer, our brains can only process so much “software” at any given time. If you load up too many programs, everything slows down and you can’t process efficiently. Further, no one can load up every program in the world at once. You can only successfully operate a couple programs at once through multitasking. We can only focus our conscious mind on a finite few things at once.
This has me thinking about how focusing on #gratitude can actually impact how I perceive the world. By training my conscious mind to focus on gratitude for a period of time, my subconscious mind starts serving up more feelings and observations of gratitude. Through devoting a portion of my bounded rationality to gratitude, the act uses up a certain portion of my brain’s processing power, leaving less to focus on negative or destructive thoughts that do not serve me.
All fascinating stuff for an amateur mindfulness geek!
Anyway, for those who have asked, the number-sign/hash tag I type before the word gratitude is Twitter syntax that signifies a keyword or topic the tweet is about. As I’m posting many of my gratitude observations on Twitter alongside my regular tweets, I wanted to use the hash tag to delineate the gratitude experiment tweets from the regular tweets.