How to Take in the Good ?

Illustration by Kara Fuhlbrugge

“Our minds are like Velcro for negative experiences and Teflon for positive ones,” says neuroscientist Rick Hanson.

Given this negativity bias of the brain, ACTIVELY taking in the good enhances a vital and mindful lifestyle. When we tilt toward what’s positive, we’re actually righting a neurological imbalance.

Our brains are great at helping us discover real or perceived threats.

Can we recognize and take in an experience that might be contrary to our usual perception of the grim-the anxious-the watch out? The answer is YES we can.

When we open up to what is wholesome in our lives, when we allow our senses to perceives the ordinary wonders of our surroundings - then we start finding much goodness around and within us. Simply, things that were around for a while can startle us with their beauty, they can provide inspiration, they can give us joy

I am not advocating that we begin to think positive—or negate the negative—but merely pay some attention to what feels positive. Just becoming aware of our bias and tilting toward the good to give it a better chance of touching us instead of passing us by like water running through a sieve.

Here are some ways to allow you to build a better balance and build new neurological pathways.

1. HAVE a positive experience and NOTICE it

What is a positive experience? It can be a small as loving the taste of a good apple, the softness of a scarf, the smile of a loved one, the praise of a colleague, the thanks of a store clerk, the feeling of being cared for. It is any moment that makes your body relax, your mind unwind, your heart sing - a sensation that allows you to feel connected to your experience in a good way.

Help these sensations become emotional experiences; otherwise it’s merely positive thinking, which is usually wasted on the brain.

2. ENRICH the positive experience

Savor the moment and take it in, feel it so that you can remember it! Give it 10 seconds and preferably longer. Breathe it in, make it very real, sense it in your body, let it fill your mind, enjoy it - so that you can allow your memory to store it fully and all the positive hormones can be stimulated.

3. ABSORB this experience.

Intend and sense that the experience is sinking into you as you sink into it. let it really land in your mind and body. Remembering and reliving the good instead spending energy on ruminating about hurts.

4. LINK the positive and negative.

Only when and while you have a vivid and stable sense of a positive experience

in the foreground of awareness, be aware if there’s something negative in the background. Preferably, the first time to link positive and negative might be with a trainer or coach.

Source: HEAL acronym (Have, Enrich, Absorb, Link) coined by Rick Hanson in :

'Hardwiring Happiness: The Practical Science of Reshaping Your Brain and Your Life' (2013)

I am larger, better than I thought,

I did not know I held so much goodness.

Walt Whitman

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