Diana Londoño M.D.

Practicing Gratitude in A Chaotic World: Why Would This Benefit Me?

When people talk about practicing gratitude, we may think it is a nice concept, but what does that have to do with me? Or how can there be any benefit? What does it really mean to “practice gratitude?”

Practicing Gratitude in A Chaotic World: Why Would This Benefit Me?


by Diana Londoño, MD

The definition of neuroplasticity describes what researchers have found and proven that neurons that fire together make new connections and real changes in the brain. The more we practice anything in life, the better we become at it. Repetition leads to mastery.

However, before you do anything, a thought and an emotion will precede that action or goal. For example, if you want to run a 5K, a helpful thought can be that your health is important. You will feel motivated, therefore you will practice daily to achieve your goal. It will be both a daily practice of the thoughts that fuel you and the actions taken to allow you to reach that goal. If you think it’s impossible, you will feel overwhelmed and defeated and you will not do it.

Our mind will focus on what we put our attention and thoughts on, and the results will follow. You will not run a 5K if you think it’s impossible. It is our thoughts which create our results.

So, if we make a point to practice daily gratitude, we then put our attention on thoughts which will begin to change our brain. Thoughts of gratitude will cause neurons to fire and cause connections changing our neurochemistry and leading to neuroplasticity. When we practice gratitude, hormones like dopamine and serotonin are secreted in our brain and we begin to feel different. Remember, dopamine and serotonin are our happy hormones, and they are depleted in conditions like depression.

Having the opposite thoughts filled with negativity instead of gratitude has been associated with anxiety and depression. Therefore, exercising our brain “muscle” to strengthen thoughts that cause the release of neurotransmitters that will cause positive effects in our brain and body is not just new age woo-woo, its science.

The challenge lies that in our iPhone world where everything is instantly gratifying, we want the results to occur overnight. We practice this for 2 days and we do not see a change and we give up.

Again. It is a practice. Running for two days will not get you to finish a 5K race. Mastery will take a lifetime, but anything worthwhile takes effort. If you have kids, they didn’t start speaking and say thank you every time by themselves. They practiced it with your guidance and repetition, over months and years it led to building that neuroplasticity or changes that became automatic to say “thank you” after something was given to them.

So how does this really work? How do you do it? How long will it take? It does not have to be something that takes more than a few minutes and an easy way to start a new habit is, like James Clear wrote in “Atomic Habits”, to stack it to something you already do. That means add

it at the end of something you already do as a daily habit.

For me, before I go to sleep, I keep a notebook by my nightstand, and I write down things I am grateful for right before I close my eyes. I do this as well when I wake up. I also write a thought of what I want to focus on for the day such as patience, kindness or being less reactive and more deliberate in my answers.

I definitely fail in my attempt to carry those goals throughout the day, but I want to train my brain to focus on positivity and gratitude because my efficient brain will start scanning the world for other evidence of things to be grateful for the remainder of the day.

Our brain is very efficient, so if you have paved the neural road map, it does not have to make new connections that take more effort. Make it easy for your brain to master these connections and thought patterns.

Incorporate practicing daily gratitude and research has shown that even in 8 weeks, the effects will be noticeable. Others may notice you are less reactive, in a better mood and they may ask you what has changed. The answer is you trained your brain to practice something underrated yet powerful: gratitude.

Dr. Diana Londoño is one of the few female Urologic Surgeons in the United States. Passionate about her patients’ medical needs, feelings, and their privacy, she approaches ALL her patients as if they were family. Understanding that urological problems can be difficult to discuss, she believes “we must strive to keep a patient's dignity intact during difficult times of illness, stress or anxiety.” Dr. Londoño sees patients at City of Hope at their Glendora, California location.

Born in Mexico City, Dr. Londoño was educated in Southern California, graduating with honors from Claremont McKenna College and earning her medical degree at UCLA. She completed her surgical internship and urology residency at Kaiser Permanente, where she trained in open, endoscopic, laparoscopic, and robotic-assisted procedures.

Dr. Londoño is fluent in both Spanish and English and appears frequently on Spanish language television as a medical expert. She is a prolific writer and speaker, as well as a physician coach.

She is passionate about Physician Wellness and founded the confidential FREE Physician Coach Support Line to help combat physician burnout. It is estimated that 65% of some medical specialists are burned out. Burnout affects 56% of all female physicians.25% of all physicians are depressed and 13% report having suicidal ideations. 400 physicians or more per year complete suicide.

This is a crisis in healthcare.

We are all patients.

Physician wellness affects us all.

Physician Coach Support provides compassionate peer support using coaching skills (free of charge) for any physician who may be struggling with a situation or a thought they need support with. Their mission is to increase awareness to help physicians live a more conscious life.

Learn more about the free support services for physicians, make an appointment or provide a donation to support their efforts by going to https://physiciancoachsupport.com/

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