Are you sick of this song yet? ME NEITHER!! But I tend to be the type of person that can listen to the same song over and over and over and over and over…you get the idea.
This song has been running through my head this summer for more than just my love of Pharrell. Positive Psychology has been gaining more and more steam these days. During my grad school days, we talked a lot about looking at clients from a strengths-based perspective. What tools does this person have that can help them with their current circumstance? Positive Psychology goes a bit further in suggesting that we shouldn’t look at what tools we have, but how we can develop ALL THE TOOLS. “The field is founded on the belief that people want to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives, to cultivate what is best within themselves, and to enhance their experiences of love, work, and play.” – Positive Psychology Center, University of Pennsylvania
One of the ways I’ve found the ability to increase my happiness comes from Buddhist Psychology. Rick Hanson’s book Just One Thing has been a great tool for taking charge of my own happiness.
“…how you use your mind changes your brain – for better or worse…you regularly rest your mind upon worries, self-criticism, and anger, then your brain will gradually take the shape – will develop neural structures and dynamics – of anxiety, low sense of worth, and prickly reactivity to others. On the other hand, if you regularly rest your mind upon, for example, noticing you’re all right right now, seeing the good in yourself, and letting go – then your brain will gradually take the shape of calm strength, self-confidence, and inner peace.” Just One Thing, page 3
Dudes, this isn’t just wishy washy, hippy crap – it’s <beep boop boop beep bop> SCIENCE! Just google “mindfulness and neuroscience” to see the data. (My search just produced 872,000 results.)
I recognize that when we’re in times of crisis, it seems impossible to be mindful and embrace all that we’re experiencing. And you’re right – it is nearly impossible, unless you’ve already been flexing your mindfulness muscles. The brain acts just as our muscles in that if we exercise regularly, we will see more positive results. If we only practice on occasion, the more difficult it will be to call on those tools when we’re really in need.
How do you even begin? Little things can help. What’s on your Facebook feed today? Your high school friends showing pictures of their kids, that one sourpuss friend complaining about how they spilled coffee on themselves today, <insert sports team news here>, and blah, blah, blah? Take a second to look for some inspirational sites that will fill your feed with fabulous quotes or interesting articles about self-improvement. Here are some of my favorites:
And of course: https://www.facebook.com/HeadHeartTherapy
Any yoga fans out there? Start your day with an intention, just like we do in yoga. Will your intention today be strength, peace, seeing the good in yourself and others or something else empowering?
Small, simple changes that take minimal effort will produce a huge payout when the universe hands you a big pile of dog poo. (Not coincidentally, when I think of poo, I think of this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JDyOD1C67J0. I own this game and it is as magical as it looks, folks.)
Pharrell does have a lot to be happy about, but I’m willing to bet if we all started flexing our mindfulness muscles we’d be singing and dancing along with him more often.