You may have noticed (ha) that I often write and speak about noticing and appreciating what is positive in our lives. It is a natural human tendency to notice the negative aspects of our lives. Why? It helps us to survive. So, being “on alert” can be viewed as a healthy, “go to” response. That said, we need to make a conscious effort to train ourselves to focus on the positive, to sit with it and cultivate the effects of noticing the positive as a way to help us appreciate the good as well as getting through the challenges we face in our lives. In addition to noticing and savoring what we may naturally overlook, we can create moments of positive experiences.
Here is an exercise to bring the positive into your life:
Think of times in the past year and recall when you felt positive and connected in some way.
What were you doing? Where were You? Who was with you? Look for opportunities to recreate those in the coming year. Granted, they will be different, but aspects of the experience and connection are likely to be familiar because they are rooted in a positive memory.
There are important studies that focus on the effects of re-experiencing trauma and post trauma stress reactions. There are fewer studies that examine re-experiencing positive experiences. You can actually re-experience a fun, challenging or gratifying event as well, and get benefit from that as well. How? By revisiting it in your mind.
Bringing forth positive and comforting memories can remind us of times we felt loved, creative, adventurous, valued, competent, strong, etc. You can enjoy the memory and in the process, potentially alter your mood and appreciate which aspects of yourself can still be “tapped” as you look ahead to this new year.
Talk about or write down what you learned, what surprised you, what you enjoyed, how you rose to a challenge, what you discovered to be your strengths, and how you felt when the experience ended.
After the fact, you can even praise yourself for doing well in what you recall, with hindsight, was a difficult situation. There are many ways to recall and re-experience and then create something similar or something new based on what you remember.