Life has a way of throwing us a curve ball, at times adding challenges that seem to gray every thing around us. Due to a recent illness within my family that ended with a surgery, I went to that gray place. I was thinking to myself, “Ok you are a therapist, what do you want to do here to feel better?” I found Rick Hanson’s book: Hardwiring Happiness peeking through my most recent stack of books by my reading chair. I began re-reading parts of Rick’s book and found one of my favorite parts about taking in the good. I like to call it “letting in the good”. I really like this concept of letting the good come in even when it feels dark and gray. Our brain does gravitate to the “dark side”. As Rick Hanson likes to say the negative experiences are like velcro and the positive experiences are like teflon. The brain has a negativity bias that is built-in to keep us safe. Understanding this principle helps us to know we have to highlight and focus on the good to experience it more easily. I’m not saying we should not let our self feel sad, that is important as well. But we have to be vigilant not to go to the “dark side” and hide from the light that is always there for us.
Out of the weeds and tangles of life great beauty can be found.
A bit later I decided to do a bit of writing in my gratitude journal as this is always a mood lifter. As I began to write I thought why not do a more descriptive writing entry in my gratitude journal to “let more of the good come in”. First of all let me say a bit about “letting in the good”. The following is a summary of the first three of the four steps of what Rick Hanson calls “taking in the good”. In this case it is in past tense as you are remembering and recalling.
LETTING IN THE GOOD
- Acknowledge the Positive Experience -In the case of reflecting back, bring forth the positive experience to your mind.
- Enrich It – Keep this time in your mind, opening the memory so you can fully remember it and enjoy it in its fullness. Think of how it personally helped you.
- Absorb It – Let it sink into you becoming a part of you.
You can use this process of “letting in the good” as you write in your gratitude journal. For some a gratitude journal may be more about listing what you are grateful for that has happened to you that day. In a Descriptive Gratitude Journal you would want to do the following:
- Be detailed in your description of what you are grateful for or what positive experience you had that day.
- Describe all the positive feelings you felt during this experience.
- Relive this positive time in your mind. Let it stay with you, enjoying the feel of it again as long as you can.
I hope you will try this enhanced gratitude journal writing. The good feelings will have a better opportunity of becoming a part of you, living on. And of course the more you journal about your positive experiences the more that you will draw more positive experiences to you.
Best wishes for happy days ahead!