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How to Recognize and Extend Positive Experiences

exerts from TIME Magazine 2019 - The New Mindfulness

"We're naturally more focused on negative, because our brains are wired to look for threats. But by consciously bringing to mind the positive, we can bolster the neural structures that help us think more positively,” explains Rick Hanson, psychologist and co-author of Resilient: How to grow an Unshakable Core of Calm, Strength and Happiness.

Here's is how: Whenever you have a good experience, notice it. It can be anything, a delicious meal, a cool glass of water on a hot day, a lovely sunset, pleasant interaction with the checker at the grocery store. “Each day is strewn with these little jewels. The idea is to see them and pick them up,” says Hanson.

When you notice something positive, stay with the feeling for 30 second. Feel the emotions in your whole body. Maybe your heart feels lighter or you’re smiling. Take a moment to dwell on why the experience feels so good and bask in the feeling of pleasure. Even that minor effort can trigger the release of dopamine, which makes it more likely to be etched in your memory.

“The more you can deepen and lengthen positive experiences, the longer those positivity neurons in your brain are firing, and the longer they fire, the stronger the underlying neural networks become," says Hanson.

Repeat that process a half dozen times a day, and you’ll feel stronger, more stable and calmer with-in a couple of weeks

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