Hello friends, and welcome to this month’s Joyinmovement newsletter.
This month I have something very special for you and I purposely saved it for the last month of the year.
In Rick Hanson’s book, Hardwiring Happiness, he talks about the power of “taking in the good” as a way to change the way our brains are wired. It made such a deep meaningful impression on me, and he wrote about it far better than I ever could, so I’m sharing his words of wisdom with you. Please read all the way through and see if, like for me, it makes you want to notice your blessings and appreciate how wonderful life is.
If you take in a lot of good, you might do it five or ten times a day, 10 to 30 seconds at a time—five minutes at most. It won’t take over your life. You won’t become self-absorbed or overly positive. You’ll still recognize challenges, you’ll still feel bad sometimes. You won’t ignore health problems, financial trouble, mistreatment from others, or emotional pain. You won’t forget that here and around the world, terrible things happen every day to millions of people—and might happen to any one of us.
But just as good facts do not cancel bad ones, bad facts do not cancel good ones. Good facts are all around you, even in a challenging life there are things large and small that support your happiness and welfare and the happiness and welfare of others.
Chocolate is delicious, beautiful sights and sounds are all around, you do get many things done each day, and you do make a difference to others. You can enjoy the results of the hard work of countless people who’ve made our world today. Turn on a tap and there’s water, flip a switch and there’s light. You have the good fortune of a human body, brain, and mind, painstakingly crafted through 3.5 billion years of evolution.
More vastly, you’ve been gifted by the universe altogether. Every atom heavier then helium—the oxygen in air and water, the calcium in teeth and bones, the iron in blood—was born inside a star.
You’re literally made out of stardust.
There are people who wish you well, who like you, who see the good in you. Almost certainly, you are loved. Your kind heart and good intentions are real, they exist. You’ve created much good in the past and you continue to do so in the present. Like me, you’re not a perfect person—no one is—but you are a good one.
Good facts abide and abound no matter how obscured. In this moment—and in most others—you are all right now.
Each moment of experience is saturated with an almost overwhelming fullness. You are continuously connected with all things. If you have a sense of something transcendental such as God, Spirit, or whatever is meaningful to you, then this, too, is a marvelous goodness.
Besides the good here in the present, there were good facts in your past and there will be good ones in your future. Just think of some of the pleasurable, fulfilling or meaningful times you’ve had, or some of your accomplishments, or people who’ve seen the light in you and loved you.
Think of the future, the good that could happen, the love you could give and get.
All this good means that each day is like a winding path strewn with pearls and diamonds, emeralds and rubies, each one an opportunity for a positive experience.
Unfortunately, most people hurry by without noticing them. And even when they do see a jewel, they rarely feel anything about it. Jewel after jewel is left behind, lost forever.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. With a little intention and skill, you can take some seconds here and there each day to weave a handful of these jewels into the fabric of your brain, your being, and your life. Little moments of ease, pleasure, calm, determination, joy, insight, and caring becoming neural structure.
It’s just a few jewels each day.
But day after day, gradually adding up, they become the good that lasts. It’s the law of little things: lots of little bad things take people to a hard and painful place, and lots of little good things take them to a better one.
I’m often struck by how big a change a few moments can make, inside my own mind or inside someone else’s. I find this really hopeful, since it’s the little things that we have the most influence over.
You can’t do anything about the past, but you do have the power to take in the good during the next few moments. As a proverb puts it: If you take care of the minutes, the years will take care of themselves.
So as we enter 2016, are you ready to, as Rick says, weave your jewels into the fabric of your brain? I know I am.
Thank you all for another fantastic year of Joyinmovement and I look forward to sharing many many more!
P.S. Here’s a link to Hardwiring Happiness if you’d like to purchase it.