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.