Taking in the Good

I wanted to share a quick and easy way to bring more joy into your life. Rick Hanson, Ph.D. is a neuropsychologist, who has written a number of books on the technique, which he calls “Taking in the Good.” Other folks describe a similar method, known as savoring. No matter the name, it is a simple, fast way to refresh your outlook or your state of mind.

Begin by selecting a positive moment from your life – past, present or something you would like to create in the future, and then close your eyes and create an image of the moment in your mind. Stay with the image for 30-60 seconds.

Let your mind wander and daydream a bit about your moment – fill in as many details as you can. Relive, notice, or create lots of sensory relationships in your mind to your image – sights, smells, sounds, etc. and think about how good you felt/feel/or will feel about your joy-filled memory or moment.

Keep going until you actually feel a difference in your body. You might find yourself smiling, or your shoulders relaxing or wiggling a bit. You may feel sensations flowing through your entire body or you might get goose bumps! When you feel like you are there your brain will react accordingly and release a bouquet of goodness.

Your moments to not have to be momentous, although they will work, as well. I savor each and every lattè or cappuccino I drink, and I always feel as though I have been on a mini-vacation! It is so relaxing.

If you savor your personal positives 6 times a day – for a total of only 5-10 minutes – you will not only change your brain chemistry while you are savoring it, over time you will rewire your brain to think and feel more positively.

Set an alarm on your phone or with Alexa to remind you throughout the day to pause and savor. Or get in the habit of “Taking in the Good” each time you get a cup of coffee, brush your teeth, wake-up, go to sleep – anything you do on a regular basis can be a great reminder for you.

Don’t worry about doing the process 6 times a day when you begin, simply start! If you remember to develop and embellish your thought – you will feel the effects immediately as your brain releases happy chemicals and hormones that help your brain cells connect. It’s science, and it works.

Go for it, “Take in the Good,” or savor a moment right now!

Advent of Kindness Calendar

Many Wishful Thinking Works Facebook followers have been using an Advent of Kindness Calendar to share a bit more kindness this holiday season.

Visit Wishful Thinking Works on FB to join in the fun. I am posting daily about the Calendar to keep us on track for kindness! There is still plenty of time to jump-in! read all about the Calendar and more on FB.

Elevate Your Mood on “International Happiness Day”

Today is “International Happiness Day,” so I am sharing Jack Canfield’s “How to Change Your Mood in 60 Seconds” video to make sure we are as happy as we can be today.  (You may remember Jack as the co-author of the “Chicken Soup” series of books.   He’s written many more since then and is an international motivational speaker, as well.)

I have posted many similar tips here at Wishful Thinking Works, and agree with Jack’s ideas and outlook. Why not jump on the happy train today by grabbing a cup of coffee or tea while you relax and watch his 9:12 minute video?

Let me know your thoughts and what works for you when you are trying to shift gears  or to ramp up your mood. Try Jack’s tips, and comment below. Everyone learns when we share!

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And, don’t forget,
“Your life is your once in a lifetime opportunity, what you do with it is up to you.” 
Patrice K. Robson

 

Measure what matters

Knowing what matters to you and focusing on it can make your holiday season richer, more memorable, and way more fun!

Unfortunately, many of us have a tendency to fill our holidays with strife and worry and thoughts of who gets what and who doesn’t; who gathers where and who doesn’t and what gets done and what doesn’t, we drown out much of the joy of the holiday season before it even has a chance to surface.

We layer our lives with so much stress that when magical moments appear – the kids playing quietly in front of the lit Christmas tree at dusk, an unexpected card or gift from a loved one, watching a child help a grand parent, a heartfelt hug or the mention of how much we mean to someone or even the kind gesture of a stranger – we barely notice or bother to savor them.

The good news is, studies show that what we focus on tends to grow. Therefore, if we focus on what really matters to us, we can increase the likelihood that those things will move center stage in our lives because we will be more likely to notice and enjoy them.

Start by asking yourself what really matters to you.

Christmas Holiday (2)What do you want to celebrate throughout the holiday season?

What are your personal beliefs and values related to the season?

In simplest terms, what is most important to you? Family? Love? Togetherness? Religion? New Experiences? Traditions? Food? Fun?

Once you know what matters it will be much easier to notice those things and begin planning ways to integrate more of them into your holiday plans. And, with practice you will soon be sloughing of the stress and slights that normally occupy your mind.

How to make your season brighter

  1. Ask yourself what really matters to you. What do you want to hold in your heart this holiday season?
  2. Then capture every moment that matches what matters to you. Note and savor the moments as they occur.
  3. To reinforce your resolve and truly impact your holiday spirit, use one of these suggestions.
    • Jot down your memorable moments in a journal. (You can start a special holiday journal, pack it way with the holiday decorations and have the fun of re-reading and adding to it each year.)
    • Write your moments on bits of paper and store them in a jar to read during or after the holiday. (The jar can be saved from year to year and enjoyed year- long or before next year’s holiday season.)
    • Write your moments on holiday-colored paper and create a paper chain throughout the holiday with all the moments you have enjoyed and want to remember.
    • Encourage your kids, spouses and even your guests to add their special holiday moments to your jar or chain and watch them grow along with everyone’s holiday spirit. (Next year to spread the joy, you can make gift jars or chain supplies for other family members and share them in November or early December!)
    • Take a few minutes each night before you go to bed or when you wake-up to review these special moments.
    • Or, simply put a penny in a jar or bowl to capture each moment and watch your “riches” grow.

Truth is, we are in control of the holidays ahead. I know it seems like life is moving too fast, and that the gift lists, demands and commitments grow longer and greater each year, but in my case so has the love. And, the more I remind myself of that, the brighter my season shines.

Here’s to enjoying the holidays ahead!

Please note: This post was adapted from an previous year’s Wishful Thinking Works post, because I loved it so much and it was a great holiday reminder for me!

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“30 Days New” – Days 20-26

So many days, so many “News” 

I truly lost track of my “News” this week while hosting guests. I did not manage a “New” each and everyday, which was “New” for me! But I am happy to say that by not holding myself to strict a standard while spending time with my wonderful friends, my week was much more relaxing! Cutting myself some slack on a public commitment was “New” for me, and easier than expected because the pay off was so rewarding – fun with friends!

One friend was visiting from abroad and another from Colorado. I met both while serving in the United States Peace Corps from 2006-2009 in the country of Macedonia. Oddly enough, because of her travels to the U.S. and mine to Macedonia, I have seen my Macedonian friend many more times than my American Peace Corps pal!  It has been nine years since we all have gotten together, so coordinating their visit was a definite  “New”.

One of the joys of reuniting was realizing and talking about how lucky we were to have met. It is astounding to consider all of the twists and turns our individual lives took to connect us originally and the many choices we have made to keep in contact since we first separated nine years ago.

Nine years laterTo celebrate gathering again, we recreated a photo we took in the tiny, remote village of Dupeni, Macedonia, which was one of the last times we were all together. Recreating a photo was another “New” for me! My husband very patiently juggled our phones until we agreed that one of the many, many new photos he took was flattering enough for all three of us – thank you, Dan! Our quiet, peaceful Long Island backyard was the setting for our new photo; we agreed it had some of the same relaxing characteristics of my friend grandparents’ villa in Dupeni, and also agreed we should not wait another nine years to gather again – somewhere in the world.

One line a dayAnother “New” this week was learning from my American friend about her “One Line A Day” habit, which began with the gift of a five year journal in which you simply write “One Line A Day.” She has passed the one year mark in hers, so she is now enjoying having past year thoughts at her fingertips as she adds her new ones. She shared some of the insights she has gained from writing and comparing her thoughts from year to year, which inspired me to buy a similar book. As soon as it arrives, I plan to start a new way of journaling – “One Line a Day”, which will be “New” for me.

A foot injury kept me on Long Island this week as my friends headed into New York City on the train for a day of sightseeing. Admitting I could not join them was tough and a “New” for me, I usually push myself no matter the circumstance. But as their plans solidified, I knew I had made the right choice, and I smiled throughout the day, knowing I was comfy, cozy at home and doing the right thing. Smiling about a limitation was definitely “New” for me!

Teddys PorchAnother “New” this week involved a fashion choice – not the most earth shattering “New” but stepping out of my comfort zone into a seersucker dress was “New” for me. The dress will not make it into my regular summer rotation – it’s a little too old school for me, but I was happy I gave it a try, and have lots of photos commemorating it’s debut! Here is one of us relaxing on Teddy Roosevelt’s front porch at Sagamore Hills. Posting the photo is another “New” – it is not my most flattering photo, but the moment and circumstances surrounding it make it special to me and sweet to share.

This very special “New” is from a wonderful friend and Wishful Thinking Works reader, who shared how “30 Days New” inspired her to develop “News” of her own. I love her “News” and the fun she is having creating them:

I have loved reading your “30 Days New”. I haven’t managed it every day, but I definitely made a start. 1) I learned to make goat kefir 2) learned to make kombucha 3) learned to actually LIKE the kefir and kombucha 4) learned I can take my grandkids 2&4 to the swimming pool without them drowning or me having an anxiety attack 🙂 5) learned how to create and use Event Brite for an organization I work with 6) learned to make almost professional looking greeting cards 7) learned to make 2 other fermented probiotics, but still trying to like them.

What is “New” with you? Have you tried anything out of your comfort zone lately? How did it feel? Feel free to share your experiences with us, we’d love to hear about your success!

To read more about how my “30 Days New” habit got started, click here.


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30 Days New – Day 10 & Day 11

 

I have fallen behind in my posting, but happily not in doing my “News”. I am double posting today to catch-up.

Day 10 – “30 Days New”

A few weeks ago I was watching a repeat of the Rachael Ray show featuring Sue Hitzman, the founder of the MELT method for pain relief and body rejuvenation. Sue was demonstrating a 50 second face lift.

I used her method while watching the show and made a mental note to follow up on her techniques. On Day 10 of my “30 Days New” I remembered that note to myself and looked up Sue’s videos online, I could not find a video of the Rachael Ray episode, but redid the facial from memory and info from Sue’s other videos. The facial was easy, felt great, and sparked my interest to explore other hands-on, face lift options, including this acupuncture based technique – no needles necessary!

Day 10 Results – I loved them all! Who knew I could have been giving myself free, relaxing, and refreshing five minute facials? A group of “News” I truly enjoyed, and have been using the past three days. Whether or not my new habit will give me a more youthful appearance remains to be seen, but learning about and using the methods really was a treat and they are something I will do more often.

Day 11 – “30 Days New”

My research on the facials also led me to a short video on a four minute daily Qigong practice that I tried on Day 11, which was amazingly relaxing and easy to do, as well.

Day 11 Results – I liked The Qigong practice so much, I am going to do it everyday. I have even created a 21 daily tracking sheet – what gets counted, gets done – to get myself in the habit of my new daily Qigong practice. The Qigong video I found is short, nothing fancy, but the practice makes sense to me and I love the centering effect it produces.  Ahhhhh. Namaste.

To read more about why I am developing my “30 Days New” habit, click here.

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MELT on Rachael Ray

“30 Days New” – Day 3

Day 3 of my “30 Day New”

Wednesday, June 25 was Day 1 of my “30 Days New” – for 30 days I am doing something new or something I used to do, but haven’t done in ages.  You can read why I got started here.

Today I painted in the backyard. I love painting, but I always feel that whatever I do isn’t good enough. I try now and then, but after a day or so I drop it. Pretty silly, I know, but the truth is, when it comes to art, I hold myself to some very silly standards!

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Today I reminded myself, once again that it is about the process not the outcome.

A critical voice in my sweet little head tried to lead me astray a number of times, but I simply took a deep breath or two and assured myself and the nagging voice that everything was going to be just fine, and continued painting. (We all need a bit of reassurance at times, don’t be afraid to face your fears and respond to those negative voices in your head in a kind and gentle manner. No need to beat up on yourself up, for beating up on yourself!)

Besides, I was having too much fun siting in the sun, straw hat tilted on my head, pretending to be a Monet protégé to let a few negative thoughts keep me from my goal.

 Day 3 Results: An hour of fun in the fresh air, with a sassy side of artistic day dreams, topped off with a hatful of confidence and courage knowing I was enjoying the life I really wanted – – less judgement and more creativity and fun!

I encourage you to start something new or return to something old; to gently calm any critical voices that may arise and to enjoy an hour or two, or even just a few minute, of courage and creativity.

PS I am excited about tomorrow, and I don’t even have a clue what will be new!

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