Epiphany to Easter Sculpting Project 1: Three things I Love: Week 2
A few more steps and I reach the top of Black Bear pass. I turn around and discover the view before me. I am awestruck. Range after range of blue and gray mountain peaks. My watch and the incoming clouds tell me I don’t have long here. But I can’t leave yet. Will I ever be here again? Not to this moment and this exact view. I look and feel intently. I take in everything about this moment that I can. I am intentionally installing it in my brain.
I learned the value of installing wonderful moments in my brain from Rick Hanson’s Hardwiring Happiness. It seems that our brains are very quick to notice and remember the bad stuff. This is helpful to us because we want to remember that hand + hot stove = pain.
But our brains are not as quick at noticing and remembering the good stuff. If you have 3 good conversations with a friend and 1 bad conversation, which conversation will be present in your mind at the of the day? Most of us remember the bad one and skim over the good ones. When we have a good experience we usually give it very little attention and get back to scanning the horizon for the next problem to face.
This negative tendency can become problematic for us because it leaves an enduring pattern in our brains. Attention to the negative actually strengthens the parts of our brain that are good at the negative and weakens the parts of our brain that are good at the positive. (The brain regions of amygdala, hypothalamus, and hippocampus are major players here.)
So, we are good at noting the bad and bad at noting the good and the more we note the bad the better we get at it and the worse we get at noting the good.
But here’s is good news: with just a little effort we can strengthen the parts of our brains that note the good.
To install the good in our brains all we need to do is spend a few more seconds of attention on the good. 5-20 seconds is all it takes.
This week as you make your 3 things I love list (or gratitude list) spend 5-20 seconds thinking, feeling, appreciating your entry. These are the extra seconds it takes to install the good into your brain.
By directing our thoughts we have the power to take an active role in building our brains.
We are talking here about making structural changes in our brains by simply directing our thoughts. An amazing skill God built into us.
Brains that are strong in the good will help us thrive and when we thrive, so do our friends and neighbors.
I think Paul, back in the 1st century, said it best. “Whatever is true,whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure,whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.” Philippians 4:8
Sculpting Project 1: Three Things I Love: Week 2
- Each day write 3 things you love
- Spend 5-20 seconds dwelling on each thing. (Installing them in your brain.)
- Post some of your list to our group.
Curious about Hardwiring Happiness? Listen to Rick Hanson’s Ted Talk:
The clouds are coming fast so I begin my descent down the mountain. I decide to take a route that looks pretty direct to my vehicle and waiting husband. Most of the area is alpine tundra so my odds of easy are good. The route starts out a bit rocky, but I figure it will improve. It did not. I am not a rock climber type. My return trip was a lengthy crab walk down a crumbly rock slope. I will remember not to choose that type of decent again. But today my brain not only remembers the difficulties of the day, I have also installed the awesome wonder of the high country. A ‘thin place’ where I find God.