Becoming more positive is something that many of us want: who wouldn’t want to feel better and happier on a daily basis?
Today, I’m going to share a simple and powerful science-backed ritual that will help you to rewire your brain to see and benefit from the positive. It’s called See — Savor — Share.
It’s possible to rewire our brains due to something called neuroplasticity. This is our brain’s ability to create new neural pathways depending on the thoughts we have and the actions we take. Every time you think or do something, your brain’s neurons come together in a specific pattern, firing in a sequence. The more that happens, the more the neurons ‘wire’ together, becoming a new habit or default thought. The more you do something, the easier it becomes. Over time, the brain also sheds the neural connections that are no longer being used through a process called synaptic wiring. In a very real way, every action you take or thought you have matters, because it can either bring you closer the person you want to be — or take you further away.
If you use this ritual, it will rewire your brain to make positivity and optimism more of a default practice. It takes less than two minutes and can be done once, twice, twenty times a day. The more you do it, the more you will strengthen your neural pathways, making positivity the default way of looking at your life.
Our brains don’t need any help in finding the negatives. When you are not doing anything, your brain shifts into your ‘default network mode’. In this mode, it constantly scans your environment for threats and issues. Unfortunately, you can’t stop this — it happens at a subconscious level. What you can do is train ourselves to consciously look for the good that exists, too, to bring some balance back and benefit from the positive.
There are about a zillion things going on right now in this moment that you could pay attention to. But at any given moment, you can only focus on a few of them. (Scientists have estimated that we can only handle between 50 – 126 bits of information per second.) Your attention, which chooses what of these zillion things to focus on, is like a flashlight. Where you train your flashlight — what you choose to see — is one of the most important choices that you make throughout your day. I believe that one of the most important realisations we can ever have is the discovery that we have the power to move our flashlight around.
The first step in this ritual is to turn your flashlight to illuminate the beautiful, good, positive things in your life and in the world. (If you’re really struggling to find something, turn to nature.)
Stop right now, and shine your flashlight around at the room that you’re in, the people in your life, or on the work that you did this week. These beautiful and positive moments exist. They’re just not in the light right now. Choose to illuminate them and bring them into your awareness.
Once you have your flashlight on something beautiful, it’s now time to savor it. Don’t just move your flashlight onto the next thing (if your brain has its’ way, it will move it onto something bad or stressful.) To savor means you’re keeping the flashlight trained on it for at least 10-20 seconds. Doing so will allow you to really reap the benefits of positive emotions — the more you immerse yourself in the feeling, the more the neurons fire and wire together.
To savor, pay really close to attention to every part of the thought, experience, memory, or feeling. Allow yourself to truly feel how good it is. Recognise that it is a tremendous gift. Pause and recognise how beautiful it is. Lean in and luxuriate in the experience. Imagine the good feeling is filling up your entire body.
We savor some things naturally: the first sip of tea, the feeling of your hands next to a fire, a glass of water after a hot hike. But we let many positive emotions pass us by because we don’t savor them, and fail to reap the positive benefits. Research has found that savoring:
Improves the quality of our relationships
Improves our mental health
Improves our physical health
Enhance your ability to get into ‘flow’ states
Inspires greater creativity
Some research has found that we struggle to savor moments if we don’t believe we deserve good things to happen to us. If this applies to you, start small: try savoring a bite of food or the feeling of the sun on your face. As you do this, repeat to yourself: I deserve to feel this good. This practice will also rewire your limiting belief, helping you see that you deserve this positivity.
The final step is to share the positive thought, feeling, experience or memory with someone else. Doing this bonds you to others, creating stronger relationships, which in turn nourish you in the long haul: positive relationships are the single most important factor for your overall well-being.
Tell someone you love about the good thing your flashlight illuminated. Share your joy with them. One of my favorite proverbs reminds us that “Shared joy is double joy.” Sharing actually lengthens the savoring process: by letting someone else in on the joy, we extend the feeling and reap the benefits, while also inviting someone else to share a positive moment.
Making This Ritual A Habit
There are two easy ways to make this ritual a habit.
The first is to find anchor points throughout your day. What moments can you build this into an existing ritual or behavior? Some good anchor points to use as a reminder to take control of your flashlight are:
When you open your computer in the morning
When you drink your morning tea/coffee
Before eating a meal
As you brush your teeth
When you walk your dog
When you finish a meeting or phone call
In those anchor moments, remind yourself to practice this ritual, and soon it will become an automatic habit.
The second way is to partner up with a friend. Send them this article and ask if they’ll help you to train your flashlight. Before you go to bed each night, send them a text or a message outlining a few of the positive moments in your day.
This simple but incredibly powerful ritual will help you to absolutely transform your mental well-being. And all you need to remember is the three S’s: See, Savor, Share.