Well, this seems self-explanatory enough doesn't it?? We all like 'good things' and we're pretty happy about receiving them. But how much do we actually let ourselves enjoy these things?
Have a think about how much time you spend worrying about life. Do you spend the same amount of time thinking about everything that is good in your life?
Have a think about the last time you received a compliment. Did you allow yourself to bask in it and feel good about yourself, or did you discount it; or quickly send a compliment back?
Have you ever had the experience of receiving mostly good feedback for something? Which feedback did you obsess over? The negative ones right?
I read a study recently, where neurologists had discovered something intriguing about the brain. If we receive a piece of negative information (a criticism, an insult etc.) it attaches instantly to our brain like with Velcro. However, when we receive a compliment or an encouragement, it slides easily out of the brain, like water off Teflon. This is why we can remember (often with great clarity) times over the years when someone has said something mean to us - but we're hard-pressed to remember times when they've complimented us.
Often, if we have strong negative internal beliefs, we can find looking at the positive very difficult. It's almost like we filter out the good; and look for, (then hold onto) only the negative: the sad, the anger and the hurtful things in life.
The ONLY way for us to balance this out; the only way to make the good stuff stick as tightly as the bad - is to Contemplate! So what does this mean?
It means this: if I want the next compliment that someone gives me to stick and make a difference in my day - I have to sit and let myself contemplate it (think about, ruminate on, mull over, enjoy, feel in my body) for at LEAST 15 seconds. Yup, that's right. I have to concentrate on the good for it to stay with me.
We can follow the same steps of Radical Acceptance here in a positive way:
- Name and describe the "good thing" in as much detail as possible.
- Experience it! How does it make you feel; how does it feel in your body?
- Allow this "good thing" to change your day for the better.
Here are some things that help me to slow down and contemplate a bit. I'd love to hear it if you have any other ideas!
- Practice slowing down. We all live too fast. Even when we find a minute to go slow, we're usually distracted with our devices. Pause. Breathe. Look around. Find something beautiful or interesting to look at and enjoy it for at least 15 seconds. Notice things. Use your senses.
- Celebrate your wins well, (big or small). Take time to mark the occasion in a meaningful way.
- Practice accepting compliments and saying "thank you;" (without always complimenting back and without verbally or internally discounting it). Let the compliment wash over you and allow yourself to feel happy.
- Begin your morning with gratitude. Even (and especially) on the worst day, find at least 5 things that you can be grateful for.
- Smile at someone random on the street. See what it does in their face when they return the smile.
- Write your compliments or achievements down in a special place. When you need a 'pick me up' you can go back and re-read it for some positive perspective.
- Remind yourself that negative feedback or making mistakes has nothing to do with who you are as a person! Look at the feedback. Can you learn anything positive from it? If not, let it go.
Here's some practice for you: I'm about to give you a compliment. Yes, I might not know you at all, but it is within my rights as a fellow human being to give you a compliment anyway. As you read your compliment, let the words wash over you. Let them sink in. Contemplate them. Enjoy them. Notice how the words make your body feel. Read it out loud to yourself. Acknowledge the negative thoughts that creep in then let them go. Focus on the positive. Repeat.
"You are a wonderful person! There is, and will only ever be one of you on this planet. You Matter. What you do and say and think and feel Matters. You are powerful and brilliant! You have the ability to change not only your life - but the lives of those around you. The life of this planet. You are Good!"