There’s a reason to stop and smell the roses. Pay attention to the details so you don’t miss out on the ordinary delights in your world.
In this journey to cultivate kind minds we are rounding out the first series of 8 episodes on “presence,” one of the 6 ingredients to offset falling under the spell of stress and overwhelm. We will begin to take in the good, or savor the beneficial moments by noticing them, when they arise, or calling to mind a nourishing memory when needed.
“Noticing” in the present moment is a key skill in mindfulness as it allows some breathing room– quite literally–and gives us some headspace. This “noticing” fosters emotion regulation, another key ingredient, which we will begin to explore in the next episode.
It can be so hard to notice the beneficial or happy moments because we adapt to them so quickly! We take them for granted. The perfect fall day, or the first ice cream cone of the summer, or the good laugh we had with a friend. And then — once these moments are gone — we forget them, or feel sad or disappointed it’s over — and wouldn’t you know it, we begin to focus on the bad weather or what we don’t have, or the next hassle that grabs our attention!
So one of the best hacks for the brain is to practice gratitude, or gratefulness, or appreciation, or counting your blessings, or savoring the moment, precisely because we can recognize how impermanent such pleasant moments really are.
Listen to the story about how Joey practiced taking in the good, even if he had to sweat his way through.
Psychologist Rick Hanson teaches that there are three ways to take in the good as part of everything you do, whether daily interactions with family and coworkers, spending time in nature, practicing self-care, or finding new adventures or hobbies in life.
Here’s how to do it.
- Notice or create a beneficial experience. Beneficial isn’t synonymous with pleasant. Joey didn’t exactly enjoy running laps, but he knew it was good for him and that the progress felt good. Other beneficial experiences include going to bed on time, reading a good book, playing with children, meeting a friend for coffee, or listening to relaxing playlists or podcasts during a commute.
- Be present. Stay with the experience by noticing the sensations and imagery. Take in all the senses. Don’t let the good moments pass you by.
- Let the experience stick in your mind. Savor it. Intentionally recall it, and, when you do, experience the positive feelings all over again.
The therapist and meditation teacher Donald Altman has a fun acronym, GLAD:
- G: Name one gratitude that you are thankful for today.
- L: Name one thing you learned today.
- A: Name one small accomplishment.
- D: Name one thing of delight that touched you today.
It helps to notice the good stuff. Give it a try.
Check out The Little Deck of Kindfulness!