"The mind is like Teflon for the good stuff and Velcro for the negative stuff." This is one of my favorite quotes. (And if you know me, you've heard me repeat it often!) It's by Rick Hanson, author of Buddha's Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom.
I was fortunate to get to hear Hanson speak recently. He explained the science behind that ole Velcro/Teflon thing. And he offered us an antidote: When something good happens, spend at least 20 seconds focusing on that good thing. Really hold it. Keep replaying it in your mind. Imagine the pleasant sensations that go along with that good thing. Soak it in!
Since our reptilian brains naturally grab onto the negative stuff immediately, thinking they're looking out for and protecting us from danger, we must consciously focus on the good in order to teach our brains how to hold onto the positive stuff, so we can feel peaceful and full of well being.
Ricks' 20-second exercise does just that. I call in "anchoring in the joy." And the reason I love Rick's Velcro/Teflon quote so much is that it reminds me there's nothing wrong with me that my mind leans toward the negative. That's simply wiring. I just need to re-wire. And I re-wire by anchoring in the joy whenever I can. Moment by moment.
I watched this happen this morning. I was feeling kinda small and stuck. Like a dog chained to a pole with not much room to explore. Oh, and even more so — like how it is when the dog walks around and around the pole so the chain just gets shorter and he gets more trapped. Stuck, like that.
But fortunately, one thing on my to-do list today was to add some new testimonials to my website. Last month I had completed three wonderful one-of-a-kind tribute books and each of the clients had sent me a joyful, love-this-so-much kinda note. My task was to add them to the Mad Moon Creations page of my website.
This to-do item was the perfect example of "anchoring in the joy." My mind had conveniently forgotten the wonderful, affirming praise from my clients. Teflon …. whoooosh … slipped away. But when I was posting the testimonials to my site, I couldn't help but feel how GOOD it felt. My insides expanded. My heart beat more quickly. I felt excited and happy. I spent some time re-reading the other, older testimonials on the website and let myself really experience the happiness of having connected so powerfully with all of these people.
I reminded myself of the intention with each of those books to create a gift that helped the recipient see how unique they are in all the world and how loved they are, simply for who they are. I let myself picture lots of former book recipients still reading their books and feeling happy and loved because of what their friends/family had expressed to them. (See the photo to the left, that's Laurie and her daughter Ruby, looking at Ruby's Graduation Book!)
So, within minutes of focusing on all this good stuff, it felt like I had been unleashed from my short caught-round-the-pole chain and was suddenly free. Life was a meadow again, full of bird sounds, tasty twigs, soft grasses, and spots of sun.
I want you to hear this. The simplicity of this tool. It will change your life if you practice it. I swear.
And I have a suggestion for you to practice it. One that will not only anchor in YOUR joy, but will provide joy for someone else, as well.
Think about some great customer service you received recently: a product that you love, a clerk who went out of her way to help you, a kind banker, or the grocer who always calls hello to you when you enter the store. Next … make, find, or buy a small colorful greeting card and write a short note to thank this person (or company) for the great service, product, or energy they gave you. Address and stamp the envelope and mail it off. (Yeah, yeah, you could email it, but it will deliver much more sweet punch if you actually send it in the mail.)
While you are doing each of these steps, stay focused on the good feeling this person/product provided to you. Keep on focusing on the uplifting feeling. Let yourself bask in the sweetness of the task. And then, after you mail it, imagine how good it will feel for someone to receive your note. Think about what it is like to receive a "real" piece of mail, and especially something chock-full o' positivity. There's no way it won't make that person's day!
Congratulations. You've just succeeded in a joy two-fer. One for you, one for someone else.
And now I'm gonna give you a chance to make it a three-fer. (Yep, this is one of those, "but wait … there's more!" commercials.)
Email me and tell me about your experience writing this feel-good note to someone. Then I will get to also feel good! And as a special thank you, I will send you a marvelous gift. I know exactly what I want it to be — it's gonna help folks anchor in more and more good stuff — but haven't yet created it. Your notes to me will be my inspiration to create it! Woo hoo.
Here's to anchoring in the joy!
P.S. Just wanted to share one of the testimonials that I posted today. This was a 25th Reunion book for MIT Grad students. I love the scientist part:
"The book you created really celebrates the importance of our reunion after twenty-five years, and what we meant and still mean to each other. The truly beautiful part is it gave all these intellectually-oriented scientists a chance to speak from their hearts — and the stories we tell are so moving and magical. It really is a gift that will last a lifetime. —Jodeane P.