♞ Mindset ♞

  • How Gratitude Affects The Human Heart & Rewires Your Brain

    That got me right in the heart. My heart is full. I just felt in my heart that it wasn’t right…

    More than just words, there’s actual evidence that we feel things in our heart – particularly when it comes to gratitude!

    Today, I want to tell you about the fact that gratitude can literally change your brain, and that it’s usually our heart sending signals to our brain instead of the other way around. The people who choose to write letters of gratitude every single day have been found to have significantly better mental health, even up to 12 weeks after they stop doing it 😱

    Our society tends to feed us the subliminal message that we need to buy more things in order to be happy, which can breed an insatiable desire to buy more and more things in the hope that one day we’ll have enough to feel grateful for. So, if gratitude isn’t your go-to emotion then you can be forgiven – and you’re definitely not alone!

    Gratitude is totally subjective and the very same thing has the power to make one person feel like they have everything and another feel like they have nothing. And that’s because it’s never really about the item in question at all – it’s all about how we perceive it in our brain. Some research from UCLA’s Mindfulness Awareness Research Centre said this:

    Having an attitude of gratitude changes the molecular structure of the brain, keeps gray matter functioning, and makes us healthier and happier. When you feel happiness, the central nervous system is affected. You are more peaceful, less reactive and less resistant. Now that’s a really cool way of taking care of your well-being.

    It’s no secret that intentional gratitude practice, such as writing down 3 things you’re grateful for each morning, has the power to start changing your mood. If you’re someone who already has a regular gratitude practice, then hopefully you’ve noticed some of the benefits. And if you keep your gratitude journal private, like I do, you’ll also know that there’s no need to share the things you’re grateful for with anyone else in order to start feeling better.

    The benefits of gratitude practice grow over time, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t wake up feeling like a different person after the first few days – it will take a little bit of time before the neurological effects of gratitude changing your brain start to show (ref). With each additional day that you feel grateful, you’re rewiring your brain to search for the positives rather than the negatives in your life.

    There are countless studies on the benefits of gratitude and they all point to the same fact: gratitude is good for you. Really, really good for you. Robert A. Emmons at the University of California and Mike McCullough at the University of Miami ran a gratitude study that involved splitting their study candidates into 3 groups. The first group had to keep a journal of things they were grateful for, while the second had to journal what was hassling them, and the final group had to write a neutral account of what had happened that week. After 10 weeks of doing this, the grateful group reported feeling 25% better than the others and had done 1.5 hours more exercise (ref).

    There are so many ways that we can access these benefits, including:

    • 🙏🏽  Writing in a gratitude journal
    • 🙏🏽  Saying thank you and expressing how much we appreciate our loved ones
    • 🙏🏽  Noticing what we’re grateful for throughout the day as good things happen to us

    Now, About That Heart Of Yours…

    At the Institute of HeartMath, a group of experts across multiple fields from cardiology to psychology found that it’s our heart that feels these positive emotions like joy and gratitude; and THEN tells our brain about it. Not vice versa. For those of us who aren’t working at the cutting edge of science, it’s most likely that you’re used to the idea of the brain doing all the thinking – but we really are feeling joy in our physical heart!

    When we’re full of positive emotions such as love and gratitude for our life, our heartbeat changes as if it’s typing out a love note to the brain. Fun fact: the heart creates the largest electromagnetic field in our whole body. It’s no surprise, then, that as I always say – your heart centre is your manifestation station! There are 4 ways that our heart communicates with the rest of our body and it’s via the nervous system, pulse waves, hormones and electromagnetic fields.

    HeartMath research has demonstrated that different patterns of heart activity (which accompany different emotional states) have distinct effects on cognitive and emotional function. During stress and negative emotions, when the heart rhythm pattern is erratic and disordered, the corresponding pattern of neural signals traveling from the heart to the brain inhibits higher cognitive function. This limits our ability to think clearly, remember, learn, reason, and make effective decisions. In contrast, the more ordered and stable pattern of the heart’s input to the brain during positive emotional states has the opposite effect. It facilitates cognitive function and reinforces positive feelings and emotional stability… – HeartMath.org

    Our body is our best intuitive device for giving and receiving messages to our brain, the people we love and the Universe. When you make the decision to start rewiring your brain with gratitude, it’s a decision that will have a lasting effect on your neurological wiring and can improve your whole experience of the world – which is all there really is because your experience is unique to you.

    Living a heart-led life is so important for our happiness and wellbeing which is why I always say it’s one of the 3 pillars of successful manifesting – live in your purpose, follow your heart, and then manifest with joy and ease.

    Choosing to find what we love in our life instead of what we’d like to change will always lead to success – whatever the outcome – because we’ll find that the joy of gratitude can never be changed by our external circumstances. Start small, start now and just think to yourself –

    What do I have to be grateful for…?



  • Imposter Syndrome And Me – A Doubtful Love Affair

    You know that feeling when you think you’re a fraud?

    Even when you know your stuff, even when you’ve practised, even when you’ve been given good feedback from everyone else – but for some reason, that nervous voice in your mind still tells you that you’re not good enough?

    Whether it’s a mean comment from childhood that pops up again, a time we failed that still haunts us or a general crisis of faith, we all suffer from imposter syndrome sometimes. This has never been more true for me than right now!

    Going back to University and teaching Master’s students, I feel wildly unprepared. I’m actually writing this to you before sunrise and before I need to start getting ready to drive across to campus. There’s a part of me that knows I’m actually very well equipped and have a lot to offer – but there’s a bigger part of me that… isn’t so sure.

    Imposter syndrome is described as the internal feeling of not being capable which doesn’t match up to how other people perceive you from the outside. This disconnect between our inner and outer worlds – what other people see vs. what we see – is unnerving and isolating. Doubt creeps into all of our inner dialogues sometimes, especially when we’re sensitive, passionate and want to deliver the best results for the people that we’re serving.

    There’s a link between perfectionism and how likely you are to experience imposter syndrome, and the same is also true for social anxiety. For those of us who have had anxiety, depression, eating disorders or bullying/abuse of any kind, these familiar feelings have a tendency to fall back into place once we’re under pressure.

    You are likely to experience imposter syndrome more often if:

    • You came from a family that put a big emphasis on personal achievement
    • You always had to sidestep criticism from friends or family members
    • You felt as though you had to work hard or alter yourself to get praise
    • You’re starting a new role or trying something for the first time – this insecurity in an unknown situation forces our brain to reach for old coping methods
    • You always feel like the odd one out, so getting acceptance from others has been tricky

    Imposter syndrome isn’t recognised as a diagnostic disorder but, rather, a mental event that happens to us sometimes. It makes it harder for us to recognise and internally accept our successes because it always feels as though we’ve just ‘made it through without anyone realising’. The deep, deep, deep beliefs hiding underneath imposter syndrome can be hard to see, harder to change and insidious to our own personal experience of success – even if we’re hitting the landmarks of success on the outside.

    The way that I try to coach myself out of imposter syndrome is to remember what achievements got me to that position in the first place. What have you done well in? What same complements do you always seem to get from different people? It’s likely that they’re not just a coincidence if everyone agrees about something that you’re great at. What can you bring to the table that you know no-one else will be serving?

    You have so many gifts and there’s no need to wrap them up in self-doubt. Our time, however, is limited, so it is important to share what you really need to share with the world. As The Darkness said about love, imposter syndrome “is only a feeling” so don’t give too much credence to a fleeting thought that isn’t rooted in reality.

    Whether other people believe in you or not, your skills are valid and your right to be here is not up for debate. When the anxious thoughts are taking over, instead of trying to replace them with positive ones, try emptying your mind of thoughts altogether. Take a quiet moment for yourself and you might find some space to try on a new outlook.

    And always remember…

    You are so, so, so worthy – so trust. And have faith.

    You really are meant to be here.



  • How To Calm Your Anxiety With Box Breathing… (like a US Navy SEAL)

    What do you do when you feel anxious?

    If you’re a US Navy SEAL, then you’ll probably turn to this method first as a way of regaining your concentration in stressful situations.

    Yet, for those of us who aren’t one (and I’m guessing that, like me – you probably aren’t…) we can still learn how to do the same thing and get the benefits from it! This simple technique can be used by anyone and requires minimal training while providing maximum results.

    What are the Benefits?

    There’s a lot of medical evidence to show that this kind of intentional deep breathing can calm the autonomic nervous system (ANS), which regulates our temperature and blood pressure. As you’ll know from the times when you’ve felt super stressed out, these are the first things that shoot up when we sense that we’re under pressure.

    On account of the evidence that it alleviates stress and lifts your mood, box breathing is even recommended for a range of anxiety disorders such as generalised, panic, post-traumatic stress and to alleviate depressive symptoms.

    If you have trouble sleeping at night, you can also try this technique to get your mind and body into a more relaxed state. Getting trapped within a cycle of insomnia only exacerbates anxious feelings, so getting a good night’s sleep will help you to regain your inner calm as you go through the next day.

    So, what is Box Breathing?

    Quite simply, it gets its name from the cyclical 4-step pattern that we need to follow – which can literally be imagined in the shape of a box…

    Screenshot 2020-04-20 at 19.09.03

    Begin by sitting up straight with your hands facing upright on your knees and your eyes closed, just like you would for a normal meditation.

    ☞ Slowly and evenly exhale through your mouth for 4 seconds, emptying your lungs completely of air. As you do this, make sure that you’re focusing on the intention of regaining your physical calm.

    ☞ Hold your breath for 4 seconds with empty lungs.

    ☞ Breathe in deeply for 4 seconds through your nose, filling your lungs as much as possible and making your abdomen rise up.

    ☞ Hold your breath for 4 seconds with full lungs.

    and repeat…

    That’s all there is to it!

    Next time you feel nervous, rushed or frantic – give this simple technique a try to see if it helps you. This method takes very little time to do, but can easily and effectively bring your body back into balance.

    Sometimes the simplest ways really are the best, aren’t they?



  • How To Know If You Have Actually Changed

    It was a big day for me.

    I was driving 3 hours to hand over keys for the house we had just sold, in the week before we flew out to Italy for our wedding. I could taste the energy release on the tip of my tongue as this phase of our life ended and a new page was about to turn into the next chapter, but it all stopped when I reached my car door.

    I thought it was strange to be surrounded by grey concrete as far as the eye could see, except for a round black stain underneath my car. I climbed inside and turned on the engine.

    My newly filled tank of petrol had somehow leaked entirely out onto the floor, taking my day trip and week full of pre-wedding travel plans with it. After a mechanic came by shortly after, he said that someone had drilled into the tank to steal my petrol; the £1200 that I was quoted for garage repairs was worth far more than just the £40 of fuel they had taken. To start such a crucial week by losing my wheels when there was a house handover, dress shop trips, bridal beauty appointments and airport pick-ups to be done would have plunged me into a pit of despair 4 years ago…

    But not now.

    Now was different.

    Now I knew what it meant, and I knew that the only thing which could actually harm me was my own reaction to it.

    When disaster strikes, we are being called to see our situation in a new way and appreciate everything that we used to have, have and will have. The only thing which causes us such immense stress is our attachment to how we think things should be. If we can be loose with our beliefs and change them at any moment to serve rather than stress us, then we can finally enjoy full autonomy over our experience on Earth.

    If we let things get the better of us, then they will. If we can turn any negative into a positive, then nothing will ever get the better of us again.

    Our “best outcome time lag” will get shorter and shorter the more that we practice this type of mind control. This is what I call it when we look back to see how everything fitted together so perfectly because that painful, confusing event actually was in our best interest after all…

    The sooner that we can switch into this thinking and look through the lens of absolute faith instead of fear, the quicker we can free ourselves from self-induced anxiety and thoughts of impending doom.

    This is not to say that it won’t be hard. Of course it will – like all great things that are really worth having. To have something which has not been earned is to never enjoy and appreciate it fully. My grandfather taught me that, and at the time I thought he was wrong – of course I’d like to just win a million pounds on the lottery and have it all now! But there is a satisfaction to something being earned that does not come when it is taken from the hand of another.

    If we’re brave enough to control our thoughts and find the best in things, we’ll be able to savour the intricate beauty that’s filling in the gaps of our whole existence. The perfection from which all circumstances and situations come is always there, we simply need to be able to see it for ourselves. As the single subjective viewer of our situation, we’re the only ones with the power to correct our viewpoint at any moment.

    If we’re brave to see our situation in a new way and brave to let the old way go, then we’re closer to revealing the truth of how everything is secretly working for us. If we’re brave enough to untie our idea of how we think things should be, then we’re finally free to enjoy how they really are. Everything is always perfect and working in our favour, somehow, but sometimes as humans, we’re so resistant to our own good fortune that we close our eyes to the unspoilt beauty that surrounds us. All events are with a Divine purpose, and our greatest purpose comes from our greatest pain. What is taken away from us is the gift that we will one day soon give back to the world.

    When things don’t turn out as planned it’s a wonderful opportunity to compare how you react now with how you used to react. Your comparable pain (resulting from your thinking) is the barometer by which you can know and celebrate how far you’ve come. If we can continue to use our thoughts as an asset, we’ll find the seeds of positivity hiding under each circumstance faster and faster with practice.

    You will know how much you’ve changed by how much hope you have for tomorrow in whatever form it may arrive, instead of continuing to be disappointed by what it turns out not to be.

    Let it be, and you will see, how the world, is meant to be.