Exceprt from “Crafting A Better Life”
A GREAT daily habit to improve our dispositions
We are all born with different personalities, preferences, inclinations and dispositions. There was a vast study done in the 1950’s called the ‘New York Longitudinal Study on mood and temperament’. They studied toddlers to predict the various temperaments each child would likely exhibit as an older child and further on in life.
And ask any parent with more than one child, they will tell you that they are all different…same parents, same DNA, different sensibilities.
So what about those of us drawn to the “broodier” side of life? Some people seem to be “hard wired” to see the negative, the mistakes, the worst case scenario…is that you?
Or maybe you used to be pretty happy in general but life has just served you up platter of shitty life circumstances and you feel bummed out more days than not?
(Let me be clear, I’m talking about general malaise. NOT clinical depression. If you feel clinically depressed or suicidal, seek medical help immediately.)
Well, there is good news for those of you who tend to feel down. You can ‘rewire’ your brain to actively look for things that bring a smile to your face. It just takes daily practice.
– Random Acts of Kindness have been proven to, over time, help elevate people’s moods. That means, just doing something nice for someone else for no good reason, can nudge you out of a slump.
– Physically moving your body in positive ways (dancing, singing, looking up at the sky, etc) has a psychological effect on your moods. So if you are staring at your feet feeling sad, look up! That sends a neuromuscular message to your nervous system to change its focus thus changing your state from bummed, to uplifted.
But, my favorite way to rewire our brains to see the good, is:
Keeping a Gratitude Journal
Everyday for the next 2 weeks, sit down with your journal and write about something good that happened to you that day. You have to come up with and write specifically about something new that happened to you…that you were grateful for…every day for at least 2 weeks.
As I’ve said, our brains love repetition and love feeling good. So, by repeating this action of positive journaling every day, your brain will start to look for more experiences for things to write about. Your brain can’t help it! Remember it’s wired to create habits! And, this habit happens to feel good…so your mind will have no choice but to reinforce it daily.
This may sound overly simplistic, until you give it a try. For some of us, at first, finding a good thing to write about might be a challenge. So, start small and easy. Did someone smile at you today? Did your car get you from point A to B without incident? Did you see a funny video on YouTube? You don’t have to come up with monumental things that happened to you. Just write about something that made you smile, or laugh, or feel at peace. Stick with it for at least 2 weeks and then start to notice how much easier it is to remember the great things that happen every day.
And no need to wait until you’re depressed to start this habit…I think we could ALL benefit from finding more gratitude in our lives.
I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: We all have the capacity to increase the sum joy in the world every minute of every day.
Despite our dispositions, we do have a choice.
And as always, repost, retweet, and forward this to your friends.