Brains are amazing things, and they have an incredible ability to absorb all of our experiences, from the day we are born until the day we die, and use those to develop beliefs and assumptions that help us form habits, connect with others, and function efficiently as human beings. Unfortunately, our brains – while amazing – are also a little bit primitive, and generally the information the brain thinks is the most helpful for us to hold onto is examples of negative experiences, because it thinks that remembering these things will help protect us from danger in the future.
Think about it. It’s sometimes difficult to recall a compliment or an example of praise, but it’s remarkably easier to remember the put downs and the failures, isn’t it? Evolutionarily, this may be an advantage, however, the predisposition to remember the bad and disregard the good could be what’s holding us back from experiencing a happy and wonderful life.
A good way to hack the biological system is to really intentionally find and pay attention to the good and little wins in every day. By building up this arsenal of joy, we’re providing evidence to our brain that they, life is pretty alright actually. Then, during stressful or difficult times, we have already primed our brain to seek out the good and we can lift ourselves up out of that funk a bit better than if our brains were stuck concentrating on the negative.
Some little joys we often forget:
- A smile from a child on the train
- A free coffee on your loyalty card at your favourite café
- Someone holding the door for you
- A compliment on your new haircut
- The wag of your dogs’ tail when you get home from work
- Walking into a heated office when it’s raining outside
- The feeling of fresh sheets
- A whiff of a delicious meal coming from a house on your street
- A genuine compliment from a friend
Look to the good, collect the joy, practice gratitude. If we can remember these three things, we can pretty much get through anything.