The first topic, as we’re in a lockdown at the moment, is “Being Present”… Being present in what you’re doing; appreciating and living life in the now, so trying to avoid worrying about what you can’t control. Children are brilliant at this, only thinking about right now without the worries of the world.
Most of us adults are the same in that we seek out and remember negative news more than positive, because our human instincts are to problem solve so we look for problems! Neuropsychologists explain that our brains are like velcro for negative experiences and teflon for positive experiences. Positive and negative emotions use different memory systems in the brain. Positive emotions don’t transfer as easily to long-term memory the way bad emotions do. Most of us don’t stay with positive experiences long enough for them to be “encoded” into our brain’s neural structure: The longer the neurons in our brain fire, the more of them that fire. And the more intensely they fire, the more they’re going to wire that inner strength – so that happiness, gratitude, feeling confident, successful and loved. In other words, if you let a moment of happiness pass without being intentional about taking it in, it won’t stay with you. So: stop in the moment of your bliss and acknowledge it.
There’s a Buddhist technique for making the present count – spend 30 seconds consciously paying attention to the feelings you have. The feelings may increase and you’ll encode the memory of the experience in more detail, so much so that when you look back and remember that moment, it will feel even longer. A friend Susie told me to do this on my wedding day, as the day just zooms past in a whirlwind. She said at some point in the day when you’re not talking to anyone, look all around you, take it all in, absorb it and you’ll be able to look back and really feel that memory as you consciously took a mental video. I now tell my children to take mental pictures during their school day to tell me later and it helps them to remember the good things. Choose whichever wording works for you – “bookmark it” or “take a mental picture” or “capture it in a bottle”.
Another thing I do is I have a notebook of “those little moments” to write down funny or memorable things my daughters have said or done. Or you may choose to have a jar with a label of what year it is, then put little notes of happy moments into the jar – at the end of the year, empty the jar and go through them to stir up the happy moments you may have otherwise forgotten.
A little more about my book – the term “Donkey on a Waffle” is from an urban phrase meaning to make something a priority or to get on with a task – “I’m all over it, like a donkey on a waffle”. It’s something my husband says and I love it because it conjures up an image of two things that make me smile!