Tool #7: Building Your Happiness Muscle

Have you ever had one of those days when you wake up and from the moment you get out of bed, negativity sets in? 

Maybe you are rushed, or worried about something happening later that day. 

Maybe you are in pain.

Maybe you checked Facebook and saw a terrible news story.

Did you know that you can actually work to build your own resilience and positivity when faced with these negative feelings through mindfulness?

Our brains are naturally wired to focus on the negative. This is what saved us from the saber tooth tigers in prehistoric times. 

By consciously bringing to mind the positive, you can build the parts of your brain that help you think and feel more positive.

Here’s how:

  • When you have a good experience, however big or small, notice it. You enjoy a warm cup of tea. Your child smiles at you. Your favorite song comes on the radio. The warm sun shines on your skin. It doesn’t have to be earth shattering, just something that induces some amount of joy.
  • When you notice something positive, stay with the feeling for 30 seconds. Practice feeling it in your body.
  • Where is it? What’s the quality of the sensation? For instance, you might notice warmth in the chest. You might feel a smile on your lips. You might feel a calming, slow vibration in your heart. Whatever it is, notice the feeling of it in your body.

Focusing on positive experiences releases the feel good hormone dopamine. The more frequently and longer you focus on these positive moments, the more you build your “happiness muscle” and enhance the neural network involved in these good feelings. 

Repeat this process many times a day. It won’t take long to notice that overall, you are feeling happier and calmer in your daily life.