Psychologist, author and mindfulness expert Dr. Rick Hanson, talks about the Negativity Bias. In simple terms, this means that our brain is primarily wired for survival. As far as memory goes, it is more interested in putting a stamp on something painful so it can be avoided in the future. Positive experiences not so much. Unless they are spectacularly large, the brain is sorta like teflon to pleasurable experiences. But there is a process to get them to stick into our memory.
Dr. Hanson has a three step process for managing your mind and increasing those positive experiences to stick.
1. Notice what is going on in your thoughts, feelings and body sensation. This doesn't have to be longer than 30 seconds. But when we run from our negative experiences, there is an old saying that fits, "what we resist - persists."
2. After notices your thoughts, feelings, sensations, if they don't relax a bit, then you can move to using your favorite (healthy:) intervention to shift your experiences. I often tell clients to write on the back of a business card their top five stress buster tools. Often when we are stressed, it seems we forget how to reduce our nervous system's over the top response. Last month I mentioned the One Eye Technique. What is your go to intervention?
3. The last step involves taking 30 seconds to "breathe in the good" as Dr. Hanson like to state. After successfully rebooting your nervouos system or getting it to relax, take a brief moment to focus on that success and sensation, taking in a deep breath at the same time. I like to add in tapping on acupoints as well to boost the process.
Of course you don't have to wait til you have a problem to do step three. You can commit to what Dr. Hanson calls taking in the good all the time. For more information on this process, click here for his article on "Taking In the Good."
When I have made a concerted effort to do so, I can feel the wiring of my brain and a shift in my default perceptions within a few weeks. Now that I think about it, I have had a lot going on this summer, it may be time to recommit to this process. Who is up for an experiment?