Mind The Good
The above photo is from our hike in Peru. As we ascended a snowy peak, a small group of horses came thundering down over the ridge at a frightening pace. We jumped of the way just in time as they flew by us. Reflecting on the photo, the experience is a metaphor for life - sometimes unexpected, thrilling, terrifying, and unpredictable - yet altogether beautiful.
Related to my previous post on cultivating positivity, I'd like to take another moment to talk about being mindful of the good. This post is an extension of cultivating positivity, with a focus on the multitude of small things we come across every day that can, over time, help us become more balanced and resilient.
Our brains are constantly changing - and how we think and what we think about, over the long term, can really affect how we react to life - in other words, who we are. Every thought, positive or negative, involves firing of a neural circuit. These circuits are like muscles; use them more, and they become stronger - so try to use the positive ones more than the negative! There are so many positive small things every day that we skim right over. The key is to stay with these events - no matter how small - for a period of time that allows them to sink in and leave an imprint on our minds. Over time, these events can provide a reserve of positive attributes, a toolbox of resilience, courage, persistence, gratitude, and insight that we need to deal with life's varied challenges.
This isn't a way to block out negatives; it's just a way to hold up the positives. Since our brains naturally tend to imprint negative experiences over positive ones, we need to make a special effort to bring the positives ones to the forefront. One particularly effective strategy mentioned in Rick Hanson's Just One Thing is to actively seek out positive experiences and memories that directly counter a negative feeling you are currently experiencing. For instance, if you are feeling particularly overwhelmed at work, take two minutes to take a quick walk, or have some coffee or tea. Next, try to take note of any small success that occurs, for example, finally sending that email you've been meaning to send, or accomplishing a task as part of an effective team. Note what it feels like to be effective, to complete a task successfully, staying present with the feeling of accomplishment and relief for half a minute. Allow yourself to internalize the feeling of being effective.
We took a walk today to our neighborhood park. For a few minutes, we watched a young dog eagerly chasing a ball, bringing it back to his owner, only to take off again with such zeal, running, accelerating, living to catch his ball. His laser-like focus inspired me to live in the moment more. Seeing that dog, another living being, so alive and relishing a simple, joyful task can remind us that there is so much to celebrate every day.
I hope you have a wonderful week.