Taking in the good Tuesday July 3, 2018
My mind (as I suspect is true of many of us here) tends to drift more easily to the negative than the positive. Even with two small children whose presence should (and does) bring so much joy my mind goes more easily to the 'what ifs' of life and I worry endlessly over all the things that can go wrong rather than appreciating what is right.
I have been reading a book called 'hardwiring happiness' by Rick Hanson, a neuropsycologist. His basic premise is that our brains, in ancient times, developed a strong 'negativity bias'. It was safer to go into fight or flight mode over 1000 imagined tigers than to ignore one real one and get eaten. He likens the brain to a wax record where each time a train of thought is followed the groove becomes deeper. Because human brains evolved to favour the negative reactions which kept us safe in dangerous times those negative grooves become deeper and deeper and we go more and more automatically to negative patterns of thought.
Rick Hanson recommends that we begin to counteract this by 'taking in the good' to make our minds more likely to head to a positive groove.
It's a simple idea where you identify a positive experience, notice it and stay with it for a few moments to really experience it making it easier to bring to mind later on. He recommends that you practice bringing those moments back to mind during the day so that you can reach out to them in difficult moments.
So I plan to try to notice the small positive things; a good meal, a hug from a friend or the smile on the face of a child and to catch my negative groves before I slip down the rabbit hole again. I want to really notice those things I normally take for granted rather than letting them slide past; breathe in the smells, appreciate the touch, bite into a chocolate and really taste it. Linger in the experience longer than you normally would and bring it to mind a few times later in the day. Deepen the 'groove' in the record that is your mind and make your 'needle' more likely to travel there in the future.
Even for those of us for whom life is currently really full of challenges we can work on finding a positive experience to notice and dwell on and small things work well. A clean crisp bed sheet, a warm cup of tea, a small task done well or a conversation with an old friend.
What Simple everyday things will you try to enjoy and savour?
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Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.