Happiness seems like an odd topic for a blog focused on unplanned pregnancy. However, don’t quit reading just yet. Despite the craziness that life throws at us sometimes, is it possible that we can still be “happy” anyway? Let’s take a look at Part One in our series today: Gratitude.
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Perhaps you recently found out you are pregnant. The timing may be off. Your life circumstances may suck right now. You’re not sure what to do. In the midst of conflicting emotions, one neuroscientist, Dr. Alex Korb, says you can still be happy. Eric Barker summarizes his findings amongst others in a Business Insider article titled “A Neuroscience Researcher Reveals 4 Rituals That Will Make You a Happier Person.” We are going to look at those four steps towards pursuing happiness in our blog this week. The first component is GRATITUDE.
It may seem counter-intuitive to try to be grateful in the midst of a difficult or trying situation. However, Dr. Korb says, gratitude can affect your brain at a biological level by boosting both dopamine and serotonin. Dopamine and serotonin play a role in our mood and emotions. Healthline describes the difference this way: “Dopamine system dysfunction is linked to certain symptoms of depression, such as low motivation. Serotonin is involved in how you process your emotions, which can affect your overall mood.” With the potential to boost mood and decrease feelings of depression, it sounds like a good pair to have more of!
How do we go about being grateful when our life circumstances seem so overwhelming?
The key is not to find a lot of things to be grateful for, but just to start the process of searching for them. Dr. Korb states, “It’s not finding gratitude that matters most; it’s remembering to look in the first place. Remembering to be grateful is a form of emotional intelligence. One study found that it actually affected neuron density in both the ventromedial and lateral prefrontal cortex. These density changes suggest that as emotional intelligence increases, the neurons in these areas become more efficient. With higher emotional intelligence, it simply takes less effort to be grateful.”
So, the more we start attempting to be grateful, the less effort it will take in the future. You can begin by simply asking yourself the question, “What do I have to be grateful for?” You might be surprised at the answers you find. And even if you feel like your list is short, the process of adjusting your mindset makes an impact.
Often it can be difficult to be grateful if you feel alone or overwhelmed. Let Avenue Women’s Center help. We have been assisting women facing unplanned pregnancies for over 37 years. Our caring client advocates can provide helpful information and nonjudgmental support during a difficult time. As you make your pregnancy decision, we are here for you. Contact us for an appointment at one of our five DuPage County locations: Elmhurst, Glen Ellyn / Lombard, Naperville, West Chicago, and Wood Dale, Illinois. Call, chat, text, or email today!
- Business Insider. (2015, September) A Neuroscience Researcher Reveals 4 Rituals That Will Make You a Happier Person. Retrieved from: http://www.businessinsider.com/a-neuroscience-researcher-reveals-4-rituals-that-will-make-you-a-happier-person-2015-9
- Healthline. (2018, May) What is the Difference Between Dopamine and Seratonin? Retrieved from: https://www.healthline.com/health/dopamine-vs-serotonin#other-psychological-conditions