This month of Thanksgiving, when gratitude is in our minds, is an ideal time to focus on harvesting positivity. I learned this concept from Rick Hanson’s book Buddha’s Brain. Prior to that I had expressed daily gratitude, and even kept a list at times, but fostering positive experiences took me to a deeper level. Here’s my adaptation of Hanson’s theories:
1. Actively Seek the Positive: Most of the time our minds are so occupied that small, pleasurable everyday experiences just skitter by, unnoticed. Choose to actively seek the good, and you will slow down and increase your awareness of the world around you – a smile from a stranger, a baby’s face, an act of kindness, a minor success, subtle aspects of nature.
2. Savor It: Make it last by giving positive experiences your full attention for 5, 10, even 20 seconds. Truly take it in. Relax your body. Breathe. Feel its essence by absorbing all the sensations and emotions.
When you begin this practice, you may notice – as I did — how often you tend to discard positive experiences or brush-off praise. With awareness of this tendency, you will find you can pause and savor the positive, and be able to let its warmth engulf you.
3. Let Negativity Go: Many of us tend to have a negativity bias, because the brain remembers negative experiences more than positive ones. When negative experiences happen, acknowledge them, let them go, and notice – as I do – a tendency to want to hold onto them. It’s interesting – and surprising at times.
With this practice we learn to appreciate more, even the boring, mundane aspects of life. This cultivates resilience and acceptance for what is. As Hanson states: “Every time you take in the good, you build a little bit of neural structure. Doing this a few times a day will gradually change your brain, and how you feel and act, in far-reaching ways.” We do have the power to have a more positive outlook and to change how our mind operates – with time and practice of mindful positivity, all of us can harvest it.
For more on mindfulness, read “Twelve Mindful Months: Cultivating a Balanced & Fit Body, Mind, & Spirit” by Carol Tibbetts. Stay on the mindful path with me by following my posts.