I spent this last Thanksgiving Holiday traveling in Cuba. I was surprised how much I missed the tradition of a home cooked meal of Turkey, dressing, sweet potatoes and pies of all sorts – and of course the love and fellowship of friends and family. Thanksgiving is also a time for us as Americans when we stop, unplug and reflect on all that we are grateful for. My holiday in Cuba brought my awareness of gratitude to a whole other level. I experienced such gratitude and love of life from the Cuban people and they have so little in comparison to the rest of the Western world and even much of the developing world. I could see the years of austerity in the country’s infrastructure, on the empty shelves in the stores, and on the lines on the people’s faces and the wear and tear on the clothes they wore. But their hearts and smiles shown brightly…and they danced! They love to dance and sing and the did this all day and all night EVERY day
Witnessing this reminded me of a mindfulness and brain entrainment practice I call, “Savoring the Positive”
The practice off savoring the positive comes out of the field of positive psychology.
According to Fred Bryant and Joseph Veroff (2007), savoring involves noticing and appreciating the positive aspects of life – the positive counterpart to coping. So many of us know that having positive thoughts and feelings are important for our health and well-being, and for our success.
But sometimes as hard as I look I just can’t seem to find that positive thought let alone have a positive feeling come along with it. I don’t think I am alone here. My research on brain science has taught me a couple of really cool things that have helped turn this around.
These are two of my favorites:
Our brains are wired to remember more negative things than positive for our survival.
Consistently aligning our thoughts with the positive can change the brain so it becomes more in tune and attuned to the positive and ultimately more happy and satisfied.
And, savoring is simple to do. Simply taking a moment one or two times a day and remembering something positive for 20-30 seconds is all it takes to begin to retrain your brain. Try to remember as many details and sensations as possible.
Savoring also makes other positive experiences more possible. For example:
- Marveling regulates awe.
- Thanksgiving regulates gratitude.
- Basking regulates pride.
- Luxuriating regulates physical pleasure
Savoring can also occur in various timeframes. We can anticipate future pleasures, experience present pleasures, and reminisce about past pleasures. People are different in their preferences for future, present, and past savoring. If you particularly enjoy anticipating, start planning early so that you have lots of time to think about a future event. If you particularly enjoy reminiscing, keep pictures and reminders to revisit past pleasures.
So for myself, following this Thanksgiving holiday, I am putting myself on a diet of savoring the positive for 30 days. I would enjoy your company and I would love to hear your results!