Why we love: Evolution has shaped our brain for survival making it naturally focused on ‘what’s wrong’. This is also known as the negativity bias – meaning bad experiences register immediately in our memory and stick like velcro, whilst good experiences bounce off the brain like it’s made from teflon. The results are detrimental to our happiness.
The good news is that the brain can be rewired with simple practises that incline the mind in the other direction – toward happiness and appreciation. (And it really works.)
For who: Can’t everyone benefit from a mind that helps you appreciate what you have?
How it works: This practice nudges you to notice what is already there and it uses the brain’s ability to form new connections (neuroplasticity) to wire new behaviour. Due to the negativity bias, we need to intentionally seek out good facts/experiences and retain them for a few seconds for them to register.
This exercise is adapted from Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy and the work of Dr Rick Hanson, Ph.D. Neuropsychologist ‘Hardwiring Happiness’.
*Get into a comfortable position with eyes closed*
STEP 1: Hold one finger with the other hand and identify one specific thing that’s good or at least OK.
For example: I appreciate / I am grateful for the nice warm shower I had earlier today.
STEP 2: Allow it to register in the brain by noticing any related emotions, thoughts, sensations and allow the pleasurable sensations to expand in the body.
For example: When brining this to mind, I might notice a warm feeling in my chest, so I try to focus on that and let it become my primary experience. Try smiling to enrich the sensations.
STEP 3: Repeat with the next finger, until you have done all ten fingers. (Yes, it can be hard to get through all 10 fingers, but that’s part of the practice!)
Helpful Hint! Make the good fact/experience specific and small, not too general. Here are some more examples:
– Something in nature (like the large green tree outside my window)
– Something that happened today (a conversation with a neighbour; a fruit you ate)
– Something in your room (a comfy chair; nice temperature)
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