1st December: Daily Gratitude

2nd December: My Body
GIVE THE GIFT OF GRATITUDE: and your brain and body will reward you

When I was a child, I remember wanting the chocolate filled advent calendars that my friends had, because they seemed far more exciting than my family’s picture-behind-the-door-and-nothing-more version each year.

This was because I hadn’t yet learnt the power of gratitude: being thankful for what I have already got.  As I grew up*, I became acutely aware to be grateful of all the positives in my life instead.  I developed the glass half-full mindset (which is not always easy even now especially when I feel that I get in my own way and make silly mistakes).  I also realised that the chocolate in those particular calendars was actually extremely poor quality and the yucky milk variety – so I was not missing much!

As an attitude of gratitude is beneficial to the brain and your mental and physical health, I am going to be sharing 24 things in my life that I am thankful for in 2015 and how they contribute to brain-friendly peak performance and hope that you will be inspired (and amused!) to look for the good too.

*Bluebird Sweet Shop toy notwithstanding. My family will sigh yet again.  I have a vivid memory of staring longingly at it in SavaCentre, especially as it was a welcome distraction from collecting the hideous Sandwich Spread in the next aisle.  However, the toy wasn’t to be mine… and for some unknown reason, I didn’t think to create it out of cardboard boxes and egg cartons like I had for the furniture for my beloved Sindy dolls.

If you are under thirty years old: Sindy was much cooler than Barbie, however she didn’t have such good shoes.

01 DECEMBER 2015



With the potential to make more connections than there are atoms in the universe, and hardware that will be more advanced than any computer will ever be, today I am thankful for my brain which keeps me alive – literally.

Whilst performing numerous functions behind my conscious awareness such as breathing, wound healing and deciding to lift my hand (slightly scarily, brain scans reveal that the brain has decided the action two-tenths of a second before a finger is actually raised) my uniquely human brain, with the largest white matter in the Pre-Frontal Cortex of any mammal, also enables me to be a human i.e. to have the ability to think, create and feel (unfortunately when the limbic system gets involved these are not always at the same time leading to all sorts of bother!).   My brain’s structure encourages me to form social connections with others and experience lots of different emotions, including love.

Such is its efficient processing capacity, my human brain prefers to automate wherever possible saving me from the tiresome learning of a multitude of tasks from brushing my teeth, making dinner to remembering what film was shown last Christmas during seasonal quizzes (not that hard actually as It’s a Wonderful Life and The Wizard of Oz are sure to be on the festive television schedule).

As if all of this is not enough, I am thankful that my brain is indeed one of a kind and all the memories and experiences that it can possibly retrieve are mine – and mine alone.   Plus, my human brain is not fixed in its processing ability like a computer.  It has an amazing plastic ability (neuroplasticity) and if damaged, can often repair itself over time and move operations from one area to another. 

In order to do all of this, my brain asks for very little in return except for regular stimulation, the right nutrition and water intake, exercise of the body that it is housed in and an adequate amount of rest.

Thank you, brilliant human brain!