Overcoming Habituation with Gratitude

Today, there are a greater number of adults and adolescents being diagnosed with depression than ever before. While some of this increase can be attributed to the COID 19 pandemic, some argue that the reason people are how more prone to depression is because of our habituation to modern day life.

Getting into the habit of taking things for granted can make life more stressful. Since stress and depression are affecting so many people, today let’s talk about overcoming habituation with gratitude.

What is Habitation?

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), the definition of habituation is “growing accustomed to a situation or stimulus.”

Let me explain.

You’re at your friend’s house, when suddenly a jet descends right over the house on the way to land at a nearby airport. The roar is incredible, and the house seems to shake as you look at the ceiling, imagining the jet flying right through it at any moment. 

After a minute the noise goes away. You look at your friend and gasp, “Does that happen a lot?”

Titling her head, your friend looks at you inquisitively, and replies, “What are you talking about?”

“The plane, and all that noise. Didn’t you hear it?”

Your friend shrugs her shoulders and says, “No, I didn’t really notice it.”

While you might find it hard to believe someone could get used to this kind of constant interruption, this is an example of habituation.

Your friend has simply gotten used to the jet noise.

So, if it’s merely getting used to something, like your friend with the jet flying over her house, why should we be worried about overcoming habituation?

Good question. Let’s talk about it.

Characteristics of Habituation 

We humans, like most animals, notice when something is different.

The theory behind this is when our ancestors were transversing the savannahs, something different could mean danger.

For example, the tall grass waving differently could mean a predator lurking, looking for its next meal. If your ancestor didn’t notice this, your gene pool would have ended, and you wouldn’t be reading this article.

This is why we pay so much attention to differences. We are mentally programmed over many generations to see them as dangerous.

On the other hand, if we see the same pattern, over time, we will begin to habituate to it. We will not see the stimulus as a threat. 

For example, let’s say you begin walking every day in your neighborhood. There is a dog in a yard that you walk by. As you walk by the dog barks loudly as it runs around in the yard.

At first, you pay attention to the dog’s barking, but after a week or so, like your friend with the jets, you don’t hear the dog.

This diminishes the effectiveness of the stimulus, in this case the dog’s barking.

But this can be a problem as well.

The Problem with the Habituation Process

Habituation may become a problem when we stop noticing a stimulus that could bring danger with it.

Let’s go back to the barking dog. You no longer notice it’s barking and are busy looking at something on your phone. You’ve walked a few houses past the barking dog’s house when you hear the dog running and barking right behind you.

Because you weren’t paying attention, you didn’t notice that the front gate to the barking dig’s yard was open. Now it’s right behind you!

Your habituation may have undone all your ancestor’s careful attention to waving grass.  

Or maybe not.

Unlike the predator on the savannah, this domesticated animal may only want to be petted.

So how else can habituation be a problem?

Living Mindlessly

As you’ve seen, habituation occurs when we stop noticing things. This is known as living mindlessly and it’s easy to fall into this trap.

A good example comes from people who sell sign advertising. Let’s say a donut shop that you walk by regularly puts up a sign that says, “Free Donut with a Cup of Coffee”.

When the sign first goes up, everyone notices it, just like you do. You go in for a couple of days and buy your coffee and get your free donut. But after a while, you no longer notice the sign.

Habituation sets in and you no longer “see” the sign. Now you’re missing out on all those free donuts.

By the way, this is why is so important to change your signs. So, people notice them.

But this doesn’t just happen with free donuts signs.

Finding Happiness by Overcoming Habituation 

Remember, your brain is programmed to notice differences. When things are the same, you feel somewhat safe. But all this safety can be boring.

You can have a great job, spouse, home, lots of friends and money in the bank and still feel bored. This boredom can, and often does lead to stress and depression.

But why are you bored?

It’s because you’re living mindlessly. You’re not paying attention to what’s happening in your life. And if you don’t pay attention to what’s going on you can forget how good you’ve got it and fall into the rut of despair.

But there is a way out.

You can start living more mindfully.

What is Mindful Living and How Does it Help with Overcoming Habituation?

Mindful living is being totally in the moment without any judgment. It’s about tuning into your thoughts, feelings, body sensations, and what’s going on around you.

Studies show that practicing mindfulness can lower your stress, boost self-awareness, manage your emotions better, and just feel more content.

Even more when it comes to overcoming habituation, mindful living is a game-changer. As you learn to pay attention, you’ll find you’re better able to spot your usual patterns and automatic reactions. This awareness lets you take control and make thoughtful decisions instead of just going with the flow.

Mindful living also helps you recognize the triggers that set off your habits and deal with them more consciously.

For example, you find you are reaching for snacks whenever you feel overwhelmed at work. By living mindfully, you notice that a tightness in your chest and racing thoughts often precede the urge to reach for those unhealthy snacks.

With this newfound awareness, you can pause when you feel these sensations arise. Instead of automatically grabbing food, you take a few deep breaths and acknowledge your stress. By being mindful of the trigger (stress) and your habitual response (stress-eating), you can choose to respond differently.

You may decide to go for a short walk, practice deep breathing exercises, or engage in a different self-care activity to address your stress in a healthier way.

By recognizing your triggers and responding consciously, you can gradually break the cycle of stress-eating and develop more mindful and intentional behaviors to manage stress effectively.

Plus, practicing mindfulness creates a little mental space between what happens and how you react. This pause gives you a chance to think before you act out of habit.

With this heightened self-awareness, you can break free from those old habits and start making healthier choices in your day-to-day life.

The Power of Gratitude for Overcoming Habituation

As mentioned already, living mindfully means that you’re paying attention to what you’re doing without judging. As you learn to pay attention, you’ll begin noticing the many things you have that you can be grateful for.

Think about it for a minute.

You probably live in a building and not under a bridge. If you’re not living under a bridge, you can mark that down as something to be grateful for.

Are you working? Now I didn’t say working at your dream job, just working? If the answer is yes, you have something else to be grateful for.

Do you have anyone who loves you. Even if it’s just your mom, at least your mom loves you and that’s something else to be grateful for.

When you start to intentionally notice and appreciate the positive aspects of your life, you move your focus on how extraordinary your life is.

So how can you develop an attitude of gratitude?

How to Sprinkle Some Gratitude into Your Life

Use these tips for overcoming habituation with gratitude:

1. Keep a Gratitude Journal:

Take a few minutes each day to jot down things you’re thankful for. It could be something small like a cup of coffee, a buddy who’s always got your back, or a stunning sunset. By recognizing and writing down these moments of gratitude, you can train your brain to focus on the good stuff in your life.

2. Thank-You Notes:

Show some love by sending thank-you notes or messages of appreciation to others. Whether it’s giving props to a coworker for helping out on a project, showing love to a family member for their support, or acknowledging a sweet gesture from a friend, expressing gratitude can strengthen bonds and while overcoming habituation.

3. Verbal Appreciation:

Just letting people know you appreciate them can make a big difference. Whether it’s telling your partner how much they mean to you, thanking a barista for their awesome service, or showing gratitude to a mentor for their guidance, speaking up about your appreciation can lead to positive vibes and lift both you and others up.

4. An Attitude of Gratitude:

It’s also important to have a grateful attitude. Try to find something good in every situation, even when things get tough. Remember, gratitude isn’t about pretending everything is perfect, but about staying balanced and focusing on the good stuff.

By adding these practices to your daily grind, you can build a mindset of gratitude and boost your overall well-being and positivity.

You Can Start Using Gratitude for Overcoming Habituation Today!

As you can see, gratitude can be like a superhero swooping in to save the day from the blahs. It can change life from someone just trying to get through the day to someone zeroing in on true happiness.

Make gratitude a daily habit. It will help you shift your focus to all the good stuff in your life, boosting your sense of happiness and well-being.

It will also help you live your best life.

So, why wait?

Use these tips to ditch the habit of taking things for granted and start living each day with a heart full of gratitude today!

modern mindfulness

Habituation can be a real downer. But you can use gratitude for overcoming habituation to kick stress and depression to the curb! Dive into Modern Mindfulness and discover how to conquer this thing.

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