Thanks to a little area of our brain called the amygdala, our brains are hardwired to negative experiences. Our amygdala is the fight or flight area of the brain that also holds a lot of our genetic memory. This memory has been mapped over hundreds of generations back to a time when we had to be wary of everything that moved – just to stay alive.
These days, our amygdala takes every day stresses and blows them up to sober-tooth tiger eating moments. And unfortunately, it seems to be in charge a lot of the time. We must have repeated positive events to over run one negative event. That’s just the way the brain works.
Our negative thoughts are stuck in our brain like they’re attached to a piece of velcro. And our positive thoughts seem to slide right out of our brains as if they were hitting teflon. What we need to do is reverse this process.
To become truly happy for no reason, we need to allow negative events or thoughts to slide right out of our minds. This may seem a little difficult at first because you are going against natural programming. With practice though, you can allow negative events and thoughts to come in and go out quickly. Here are few things to remember:
- When a negative thought or event occurs, minimise your emotions. The more emotion you have the more sticky you are making this memory.
- Be mindful of what you have learned about this event. Ask yourself, “What’s important to learn about this?” By doing so you are changing the memory.
- Ask yourself a question that flips the emotion. “What’s funny about this?” is a good one to ask.
- If a negative thought comes in, erase it like it was on a blackboard and ask yourself, “What do I want instead?” Focus on your goals, your hopes, dreams and your happiness when you answer.
To get positive events to stick, you can try these:
- Put even more emotion into events than you normally would. Celebrate more, laugh harder, smile broader. And when you think about the event, amplify your memory by making it bigger, brighter, full of color, a full action movie and make the ending even better than the original. I know it sounds weird but if your brain has no problem making negative endings worse than they actually were, you should have no problem making positive endings better!
- Ask yourself positive questions about daily routines such as, “How can I get even better at this?” or “How can I have even more fun doing this?” Play music, dance a little or just bring every positive vibe into your activity that you can.
- When positive thoughts come in, like gratitude, pleasantries, warmth or stuff that expands you, take the time to really be in that thought and amplify it. Give it all the attention it deserves!
Your happiness challenge this week is to make positive events and thoughts stick like velcro and negative thoughts and events slide off you like you were made of teflon.
To your improving happiness,