Think of something that makes you happy. What is it? Your dog? A weekend away? The smell of babies? The sound of wind chimes?
How do you feel when you spend a minute thinking about that something? Did you smile? Did you take a deep breath?
Rick Hanson, author of the book Hardwiring Happiness, talks about a concept he calls taking in the good. What this means is that instead of just letting the good and pleasant things that happen in our day occur and then move on, we take just a few breaths to absorb the good feeling of being included, appreciated, and at ease.
Taking seemingly ordinary events in our day and making them positive experiences to remember. Over time these experiences add up to an overall feeling of happiness in and with our life.
Hanson goes on to explain that this works because of the neuroplasticity of the brain. This means that our brains are trainable and changeable. Just like we can build muscles in the gym, we can build memory and train our brains to look for good or bad in every event.
Whether we look for good or we look for bad we are training our brain to find it. So it isn’t just a matter of positive thinking when we aren’t feeling good, it’s a practice of finding the good that is already there no matter how small it may be.
So how do we put this in to practice? It’s really very simple but it takes some intention.
First, we have to notice when we’re having a positive experience. It doesn’t have to be huge, it can be as simple as checking off all the tasks on our to do list, or a thoughtful text from a friend. Noticing is the key here. Noticing the feeling of the positive experience.
Second, we enrich the experience by taking 5 or 10 seconds to just sit with the feeling. Sense how this positive experience feels in your body, does it feel like a deep breath? Do you feel lighter? Is there a warmth in your heart, did you smile? Recognizing what about the experience feels good to you makes it become a part of your own personal experience and who you are.
And the third step is to absorb the experience. Feel it really sinking in, becoming a part of you. Visualize it washing over you or filling you up. Hanson says, “Know that the experience is becoming part of you, a resource inside that you can take with you wherever you go.”
I challenge you to notice what good things happened in your day today? What small experiences will you savor and absorb to build your inner strength and resilience?