Smiling In the Dark (And Why You Should be Doing This)

appreciating the good in life
My friend often finds herself smiling in the dark just after switching off her bedside lamp.

She has a daughter named Claire.  Claire is an adorable five-year-old who was born with a heart defect that has already required open-heart surgery once.

The smallest airborne virus poses a particular threat to Claire’s body because of her vulnerability to life-threatening pneumonia.

Fortunately, Claire’s mother has some good coping skills for dealing with the stress.  Each night, before drifting off to sleep, she and her husband recall the funny things Claire has done during the day.

Claire has an adventurous spirit.  She’s always laughing, inventing games, or trying to argue her way out of punishments for ideas she took a little too far.

My friend practices the art of “taking in the good,” which is the term used by neuroscientist, Rick Hansen in his book, Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence.

By recounting the funny things Claire did during the day, she develops the habit of appreciating what is good.

Rick Hansen advises us to practice this with all kinds of small things.  He gives a personal example of peeling an orange, which he does several times each day.

He allows himself to focus on the delicious citrus smell as he peels the orange… purposefully allowing himself to wonder at the fact that no one else has ever seen the inside of this particular orange.

He allows himself to slow down and savor the taste of the orange inside, purposefully appreciating the good flavor.

He calls this “taking in the good” because it is a mental act of encouraging the mind to focus on the good things in life… even the seemingly insignificant good things.

By doing so, we actually rewire our brains over time.  We develop a mental habit that causes us to be happier people.

It happens gradually.  The brain develops stronger neural circuits associated with the habit of noticing what is good and appreciating the small things in life as it unfolds.

I think people who meditate have known this for years. But it’s fun to see scientists unraveling the brain science behind these benefits.

Because you read my emails, you know I put a high value on happiness.  I value happiness for its own sake. But there is a very powerful side benefit.  Which is that happiness tends to attract positive relationships.

appreciating the good in lifeA happy person is more approachable.  A happy person glows because of the way she frequently smiles…a special light in her eyes.

Happiness unlocks mental energy.  That energy shows off your vibrancy, which is particularly sexy.

Is there room in your hectic schedule to practice taking in the good?

You don’t have to do it perfectly or completely.  Pick two aspects of your daily schedule.

Then slow down, focus your mind on what’s good, and capture a memory of that positive experience.

You might think of it as buried treasure.  When you find something to appreciate, you’ve discovered a gem.  It’s a gem of happiness.

These gems are buried at your feet.  They are all around you, but you have to slow down enough to appreciate them and take them in.

As you take them in, you build up a storehouse of treasure within.  The treasure is happiness. And it is the greatest gift you can bring to any man lucky enough to find himself in a relationship with you.

Always on your side,

James Bauer


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27 thoughts on “Smiling In the Dark (And Why You Should be Doing This)

  1. Reenie said:

    BEAUTIFUL, you always have such incredible wisdom to share! I so want to find a man that has your sensitivity and wisdom!! I particularly loved your last sentence about a man being lucky enough to be in a relationship with me!! Wow, I needed to hear that one! I am trying to concentrate on that very issue! It’s different for me, as all my life I would think how lucky I was, which could be true, but never how lucky HE was to have ME!! In my golden years now, I have come to accept and realize I do have a LOT to offer in a relationship and that helps to keep me focused on my value and that I no longer give it so freely! Now I know and understand that any man that wins my heart, will be DAMN lucky!!! 😉 180 shift for me!! Thank you Jim for your wisdom and insights, they really make a girl smile!! 🙂 Do you have a “Twin”!!??

  2. Krassimira said:

    This is beautiful, James! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Laura said:

    I recommend to take a “conscious” shower each day. Stop and concentrate on what the water feels on your skin, what does the warmth feel like, how does it feel when the water slides across your closed eyelids etc. What does you shower cream smell like, what flavor is it. Can you hear the water dropping on the floor, what does that sound like. Can you hear it going down the drain. Note that everything is okay in that moment, how wonderful it feels to stand there under that warm water.

    This is more like mindfulness (concentrating on this particular moment, realizing life happens here and now) but makes you really appreciate your showers more and you get so much out of that moment. Makes you feel alive :).

    • James Bauer said:

      You explained that very well. Thanks for adding your recommendation!

  4. Meliss said:

    Hi James. Thank you so much for your blogs. This one especially “made sense” and am sure will hope. So many of your topics seem to turn up at just the right time. So thank you once again x

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