Chapter 8: Gratitude and Compassion

In our journey of personal growth and self-discovery, we often encounter chapters that teach us valuable life lessons. One such chapter revolves around the profound concepts of gratitude and compassion. These principles have the remarkable ability to elevate our well-being, foster balance, and transform our outlook on life. In this blog post, we will explore the significance of gratitude and its connection to the RAS (Reticular Activating System), along with the release of neurochemicals that contribute to our overall happiness.

The Inspiring Influence of Gratitude:

During my travels through various developing countries, I had the privilege of living among indigenous communities. Despite their limited material possessions, these individuals radiated joy, laughter, and contentment. Their genuine smiles and expressions of gratitude deeply impacted me. Witnessing the happiness they found in simple things like a child playing with a broken wheel ignited my realisation of the immense power of gratitude.

Embodying Gratitude:

Many of us in the Western world practice gratitude by listing a few things we are thankful for. While this is beneficial, it is important to go beyond mere words and truly embody gratitude in our daily lives. Personally, I have incorporated two gratitude practices into my routine. I begin each day with a reverse gratitude practice, envisioning and looking forward to the day ahead with enthusiasm and gratitude. This shift in perspective sets a positive tone for the day right from the start.

At the end of the day, I take a few moments to reflect and write down three things I am grateful for. This practice encourages me to explore beyond the obvious and seek out even the smallest moments of kindness, compassion, and gratitude. By consciously training our minds to recognize these acts of goodness, we rewire our reticular activating system (RAS) to filter for positivity and fulfillment.

Understanding the RAS:

The RAS is a network of neurons in our brain that helps us recognize familiar patterns and stimuli. To comprehend its influence, imagine owning a brand-new red mini car. As you drive around, you start noticing other red minis everywhere. This phenomenon occurs because your RAS has been programmed to seek out and identify these familiar objects. Similarly, when we focus on negativity and stress, our RAS highlights more of the same in our lives.

Harnessing the Power of Neurochemicals:

Practicing gratitude and compassion triggers the release of neurochemicals that contribute to our well-being and happiness.

  • Dopamine, the reward chemical, is released when we complete tasks and experience a sense of fulfillment.
  • Serotonin, the mood stabiliser, can be boosted by exposing ourselves to sunlight in the morning or engaging in activities that bring us joy.
  • Oxytocin, often called the love hormone, is released when we show compassion, receive compliments, or share laughter with others.
  • Finally, endorphins, the natural painkillers, are produced through movement and exercise.

Cultivating gratitude and compassion is a transformative practice that has the power to enhance our lives in numerous ways. By incorporating gratitude into our daily routine, embracing compassion towards ourselves and others, and understanding the influence of the RAS and neurochemicals, we unlock a profound sense of well-being and happiness. Let us embark on this journey of gratitude and compassion, appreciating the simple joys of life and spreading kindness wherever we go. Remember, gratitude is not just a practice but a way of life that opens doors to a more fulfilling and harmonious existence.


Disclaimer: I encourage you to explore the profound impact of self-awareness by delving into Melo Calarco’s book. You can obtain a copy of the book by following this link.


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