Rick Hanson, Ph.D., is a neuropsychologist and author of Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence (from Random House in October ...Read More
I’ve been talking about ways to Hardwire Your Happiness on the blog lately. So I thought it would be great to give you a sense of how it feels to take in the good. If you are someone who usually focuses on the negative experiences in the world you can turn that around over time by Taking in the Good. I’ll suggest some prompts here that you can use in your everyday life to start changing the negativity bias in our lives into Teflon for the positive. Take my prompt and go through the first three steps outlined below on your own.
STEP 1. Have a positive experience
For example, you could think about things for which you’re grateful, bring to mind a friend, or recognize a task you’ve completed. As much as you can, help ideas like these become emotionally rewarding experiences; otherwise, it’s merely positive thinking.
STEP 2. Enrich it
Stay with the positive experience for five to ten seconds or longer. Open to the feelings in it and try to sense it in your body; let it fill your mind. Enjoy it. Gently encourage the experience to be more intense.
STEP 3. Absorb it
• Intend and sense that the experience is sinking into you as you sink into it.
• Notice something pleasant that’s already present in your experience. Perhaps a relaxed sense of breathing, comfort, or curiosity.
• Find something good in your immediate situation. Perhaps something sturdy, well made, protective, useful, or beautiful, such as a cozy chair, a tree out the window, or a picture on the wall.
• Think of something you are glad about, in your life these days or in your past. It could be as simple as having a roof over your head.
• Bring to mind someone who makes you feel cared about. It need not be a perfect relationship, but the caring—the warmth for you, the wishing you well—is genuine.
• Bring to mind someone you like.
• Think of some things that help you feel strong . . .peaceful . . . grateful . . . happy . . . loved . . . loving.