Thursday, November 25, 2010

Giving Thanks

Happy thanksgiving to you all. Today I felt like I should do a message on gratitude which is a powerful aspect of positive thinking. This might be more for me than anyone else. Sometimes I need to remind myself of the goodness of God. Maybe you are wondering what this has to do with sugar :) Well, depression can be a trigger for me to give in and have something sweet to “release” me from the pain.

Holidays can be a trigger for me to, not because there are allot of sweets, but because I miss my parents so much. This will be their 5th Thanksgiving they have been away from home. They have been in Africa serving the Lord. And they won’t be back until after they have missed their 6ths consecutive Thanksgiving (not to mention Christmas) home.

I was reminded the other night of the impact our negative thoughts can have on our brain. I may not agree 100 percent with what Dr. Amen has to say, but I feel like he can be a great resource. Follow this link for more info. This first quote is from that link.

“The thoughts that go through your mind, moment by moment, have a significant impact on how your brain works. Research by Mark George, MD and colleagues at the National Institutes of Health demonstrated that happy, hopeful thoughts had an overall calming effect on the brain, while negative thoughts inflamed brain areas often involved with depression and anxiety. Your thoughts matter.”

Dr. Amen has a clever acronym for negative thoughts, “ANTs” (or Automatic Negative Thoughts)

Quoting a paragraph from his book, “Change your brain change your life.”

Our overall mind state has a certain tone or flavor based largely on the types of thoughts we think. When the deep limbic system is overactive, it sets the mind's filter on "negative." If you could look into the thoughts of people who are depressed, you would find one dispiriting thought following another. When they look at the past, there is regret. When they look at the future there is anxiety and pessimism. In the present moment, something is most often unsatisfactory. The lens through which they see themselves, others, and the world has a dim grayness to it. They are suffering from Automatic Negative Thoughts, or ANTs. ANTs are cynical, gloomy, and complaining thoughts that just seem to keep coming all by themselves.

(to read a section from his book click this link)

Here is a summary of the “ANTs”

1. "Always" thinking: thinking in words like always, never, no one, every one, every time, everything.
2. Focusing on the negative: only seeing the bad in a situation.
3. Fortune telling: predicting the worst possible outcome to a situation.
4. Mind reading: believing that you know what another person is thinking, even though they haven't told you.
5. Thinking with your feelings: believing negative feelings without ever questioning them.
6. Guilt beatings: thinking in words like "should, must, ought or have to."
7. Labeling: attaching a negative label to yourself or to someone else.
8. Personalization: innocuous events are taken to have personal meaning.
9. Blame: blaming someone else for your own problems.

That was me, and in moments of relapse it is me again, if I am not careful or use my “ANT eaters”

Feed Your Anteater and Feel Better

Whenever you notice an ANT entering your mind, train yourself to recognize it and write it down. When you write down automatic negative thoughts (ANTs) and talk back to them, you begin to take away their power and gain control over your moods. Kill the ANTs by feeding your emotional anteater.

FEED YOUR ANTEATER AND FEEL BETTER EXERCISE is for whenever you need to be in control of your mind. It is for times when you feel anxious, nervous, depressed or frazzled. It is for times when you need to be your best.

Here are some examples of ways to kill these ANTs:

ANT / Species of ANT / Kill the ANT

You never listen to me. / 'Always Thinking' / I get frustrated when you don't listen to me,
but I know you have listened to me and will again.

The boss doesn't like me. / 'Mind Reading' / I don't know that. Maybe she's just having a bad day.
Bosses are people, too.

The whole class will laugh at me. / 'Fortune Telling' / I don't know that. Maybe they'll really like my speech.

I'm stupid. / 'Labeling' / Sometimes I do things that aren't too smart,
but I'm not stupid.

It's your fault we have these marital problems. / 'Blame' / I need to look at my part of the problems and look for ways I can make the situation better.

Getting back to gratitude, this talk was given at our most recent General Conference from our wonderful Prophet:

“We can lift ourselves and others as well when we refuse to remain in the realm of negative thought and cultivate within our hearts an attitude of gratitude. If ingratitude be numbered among the serious sins, then gratitude takes its place among the noblest of virtues. Someone has said that ‘gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.’ Cicero, in A New Dictionary of Quotations on Historical Principles, sel. H. L. Mencken (1942), 491.

“When we encounter challenges and problems in our lives, it is often difficult for us to focus on our blessings. However, if we reach deep enough and look hard enough, we will be able to feel and recognize just how much we have been given.”

Lets help each other this holiday season to see how richly blessed we really are. Approaching life with an attitude of gratitude will not only bless our lives, but lift those around us.


  1. Very good post Laura. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Great post - I needed it. Thanks Laura. I've been on hold at the library for 6 months waiting for Dr. Amen's book. Can't wait to read it.