Do You Quickly Go Negative? Learning to Enjoy Little Pleasures Can Heal You.

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Jim was gently rubbing his collarbone with his left hand.

“What in the world are you doing?” I asked smiling. 

“Rubbing it in.” he answered as he gave one last, quick rub. 

“Rubbing what in?” 

“The good feeling, of course.” he replied.    

Then I understood.

Jim was taking time to focus on a good feeling and enjoy it as he “rubbed it in.”

This choice to focus on a positive thought or feeling is the latest psychological trend. Traditionally, therapists attention turned to people’s problems, pathology, loss, and the like. Or the emphasis has been on going for intense, passionate, cathartic experiences. 

Recently, however, many therapists are shifting away from this kind of focus. Instead they are trying to find new ways to help clients look for and enjoy the string of little, positive, daily experiences we all have. 

Positive psychologist, Barbara Fredrickson uses the term micromoments of positivity to describe these “small, casual, fleeting moments of positive connection in life.” 1

For example, taking time to savor, and be grateful for: the sweetness of a ripe peach, the good feeling that comes with a genuine compliment, the joy of a family at dinner having a good belly laugh together.

Here’s the main point. You have choice. You can choose to look for, and enjoy, life’s everyday string of small moments of pleasure, good relationships, satisfactions, and joy. And there’s good news. We have lots of them!

Good events outnumber bad events by three or four or five to one studies show. Fredrickson suggests that good events are typically subtler than the bad ones (or we let them be). Also, we tend to take them in stride because they are less novel, not necessarily out of the ordinary, and not threatening. 

The key to true happiness, resilience, physical and mental health may rest with your choice to look for positive micromoments and focus on them. Instead of demanding an endless series of intense, passionate experiences, or focusing on the negative, why not give those fleeting moments some attention?

Some research to back this up comes from San Francisco researcher Doc Childre, founder of the Institute of Heart Math. Dr. Childre has shown in two separate studies that savoring two positive emotions--appreciation and caring--is good for the heart.

Focusing on appreciation and caring increases the body’s Ievel of immunoglobulin Ia. This is an antibody at the first line of defense in fighting disease. Childre found that paying close attention to these two positive feelings set off an immediate, steep rise in Ia that lasted six hours!

In contrast, when the negative emotion of anger was the focus, or even simply remembered, first there was a short burst in Ia and then a six-hour depletion of it. 

Do you tend to focus on the negative? Do you find yourself craving continuous moments of high passion and intensity and disappointed with the small things in life? Or do you have a mindset that allows you to look for and enjoy those micromoments of positivity? 

Are you interested in understanding why you it's hard for you to focus on the positive or take time to enjoy the little things in life? I invite you to take a look at Become the Person You Were Meant to Be  The Choice-Cube Method: Step by Step to Choice and Change You can retrain yourself, change, and grow to engage life more fully. You can also check out my website to learn more about the method.

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