Barbara, with her short sandy colored hair had some tough decisions to make. So many things were swirling around in her head that she felt sick inside from all the questions. Her friends and family told her to just use her willpower and get out of the relationship. But it seemed more complex than thatRead More
Years ago, I learned that I could direct my emotions. You can, too. I invite you to try it. First, put a paperclip on your knee. Focus on it and tell yourself to feel “love” for it. Feel the love. Pretty interesting, huh? Now, try shifting to anger. If you try, you can even feel fear as you focus on that little paperclip.
That you can direct your emotions is old news. The new news, according to neuroscientists’ research, is that “mental rehearsal”--a repeated focus on a feeling such as love, anger, or fear--can make lasting changes to structures in your brain and body!
An example of mental rehearsal comes from the University of Wisconsin (Psychological Science 2013). This research suggests that a daily focus on being loving and compassionate affects pathways in the brain and reinforces those feelings. Equally as interesting, the research shows that this daily focus also changes behaviors, which become more loving and compassionate.
Along the same positive lines,“compassion meditation” was the subject of a recent study from Emory University. This is where you spend time focusing on your desire to develop feelings of compassion and kindness for others. As a result of this compassion meditation, subjects’ ability to read the facial expressions of others increased.
The takeaway is that the awareness of a feeling and simply focusing on your desire to develop that feeling can activate the neural circuits responsible for producing it thus creating or strengthening it.
Of course, what is true for positive emotions, is also true for negative ones. For example, noted researcher Candace Pert points out that your repeated focus on a negative emotion such as fear or disgust can lead to addiction to that emotion.
It’s the old law of sowing and reaping. (Whatever you put out there, gets you more of it.) It would seem that based on neuroscience research the old law has become the new law.
So what about you? Will you spend a few minutes each day focusing on some positive emotions and memories... on what you feel grateful for? If you do, the likelihood is that you will strengthen the brain pathways and connections that produce those positive feelings and get more of them.
If, however, you have trouble finding and focusing on the positive, you might be interested in how to overcome the things that block you. 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 Changehttp://amzn.to/Ug268G. 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.
2014 Choice-Cube Publications LLC. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. Reproduction, copying, or redistribution (electronic or otherwise, (including on the World Wide Web), in whole or in part is encouraged provided the attribution Choice-Cube Publications is preserved
“What in the world are you doing?” I asked with a smile.
Jim was gently rubbing his collarbone with his left hand.
“Rubbing it in.” he smiled back as he gave one last, quick rub.
“Rubbing what in?”
“The good feeling of being here with you, of course.” he replied.
Then it dawned on me. Jim was taking time to focus on the good feelings we were sharing as he “rubbed it in.” He was programming his subconscious mind with this positive moment to create his “happiness happy.
You’ve heard the phrase, “ Take time to smell the roses.” Corny but true. It takes a little effort to stay aware savoring and being 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, or like Jim, the pleasure of just hanging out together.
Positive psychologist, Dr. Barbara Fredrickson, suggests that these “good” events are typically subtler than the negative ones and harder to recognize. Also, she says that we tend to take positive feelings in stride because they are less novel, not necessarily out of the ordinary, and not threatening. Studies show, however, that good events outnumber bad events by three or four or five to one and that staying aware of them is good for us.
Happy people generally have better medical, dental and psychological health, suggests Dr. Kurtz of the University of Virginia and coauthor of Positively Happy. Positive people also tend to see improvement in the physical and psychological conditions of people around them.
Here’s the point. 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 micro-moments of positivity? You have choice! Instead of automatically going to the negative, you can choose to look for, and enjoy life’s everyday small moments of pleasure, good relationships, satisfactions, and joy. And there’s more good news. You have lots of them. Your choice…
2018 Choice-Cube Publications LLC. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. Reproduction, copying, or redistribution (electronic or otherwise, (including on the World Wide Web), in whole or in part is encouraged provided the attribution Choice-Cube Publications is preserved.
Jack had a problem. Around forty-years-old, good-looking, smart, and capable, with a college degree in business, he couldn’t hold down a job. Oh, things would start out just fine. Then Jack would take offence at something or someone and the downward-slide would start.
What was going on? Jack had a “focus problem.” Growing up, both his mom and dad expected him to be perfect. Jack learned to defend himself by focusing on their faults and taking offense at anything he thought was criticism.
Now, as an adult, he had a bad habit. Without thinking, he automatically assumed people were critical of him. Then, to feel better about himself, he focused on their flaws and weaknesses and attacked. He knew just how to make somebody feel rotten.
People who worked with Jack either avoided him or tried to get even. As a result, things at work became chaotic. Finally, though there was no problem with his work, the boss had to let him go. This scenario had played out several times. Still Jack didn’t realize that his negative focus on others was destroying his life.
Like Jack, you may also have a negative focus. For example, you may live in a “what if… focus” that causes you to worry about everything all the time. Perhaps you focus on each little physical twinge and pain with fear of some serious disease. Or, instead of solving problems, do you focus on not having enough money… time… energy?
Your focus determines the direction and quality of your life. Where and what you focus on is where you will put your life-energy. Jack’s fear of criticism and his habit of trying to feel okay by putting others down was ruining his life.
Another way to say this is to talk about the “law of sowing and reaping.” Whether it’s corn or tulips, the seeds you plant determine the crop you get. In the same way, whatever you “put out there” will come back to you.
You can learn to recognize your focus and choose what you focus on. Choose wisely because whatever you focus on, negative or positive, will come into your life.
To learn more about choice, I invite you to look at the “Choice-Cube® 4 Steps for Change” in my book Become the Person You Were Meant to Be. You will find lots of new ideas, and learn some tools to help you both find immediate relief and take the 4 Steps. Most importantly, using the tools and taking the Steps, you can learn to make important changes that will last.