Life Sucks and Then You Die
It's true. The human brain is built to survive, organized around a negativity bias that ignores the good stuff and readily ruminates on all things awful. Rick Hansen's 2013 work on Hardwiring for Happiness was my eye opener, breaking down the brain science and planting a seed. Perhaps the built-in negativity that has helped our species survive was behind the crazy making thinking of my ongoing stress and anxiety?
Savor and Change
Enter Richard Davidson's 2015 research on savoring, introducing the idea of positive neural plasticity. Use the brain to change the brain for the better. Could I really offset negativity bias through the intentional cultivation of new thought patterns centered on appreciation and gratitude? As someone who has personally struggled over a lifetime of perfectionism, performance anxiety and depression, in late 2016 I figured it was worth a try.
Contemplative Photography and The Instagram Cure
I'm not much of one for social media, but in keeping up with my Gen Z kids, it became clear that Instagram was a thing. So, true to my multi-tasking nature, I figured Instagram would be the perfect accountability tool for my appreciation practice. I kicked things off with a short trip to the coast, where the savoring was easy, and then promised myself that I would continue to post one picture a day of something I was appreciating. The bird-feeders on my deck, the kids on the playground, flowers, clouds; it was like hide and seek for the good stuff. What started as a personal challenge ended up as one of my favorite parts of the day.
Unicorns and Rainbows
Truly. I am now a savoring nut. That hunt for the good stuff is now going on 18 months, and has been the easiest and most positively mind bending habit I've ever adopted. In fact, my personal positivity protocol has expanded to include an embodied "felt sense" of joy, a yoga practice I discovered through my work in Integrative Restoration. Calling in a moment of intentional appreciation is foundational to The People's Pause mindful breathing practice because I know from personal experience that the more you seek the beautiful and good, the more beauty and goodness you will see in the world.
Because we can all use a reminder that life truly is good. Whether struggling with a specific challenge like chronic pain or anxiety, or simply seeking a more easeful relationship to everyday challenges, mindset support helps. Private mindfulness instruction is one way to gain understanding about how the heart, mind and body function together. Contact Suzanne about how to use short burst practices of mindful awareness and intentional reframing to upgrade your mindset.
After all, your unconscious view of the world is shaping your every moment - wouldn't you like to have an optimists' mindset?