Our minds often focus on what is bad in our lives and make those issues appear bigger as a survival mechanism. We remember the unpleasant things that have happened to us strongly, even if we have had more positive experiences. This is called negative bias thinking and it occurs in everyone. The advantage with this aids in assisting us to survive negative situations, however, we end up living with more misery, anxiety, fear or depression than we need to much of the time.
Have you heard the line from that song called “Jack and Diane” by John Cougar …it goes like this…”life goes on after the thrill of living is gone”. You can, however, rebalance the positive and turn up the thrill factor within your life by doing one or more of the following:
- Remember all the good things that have occurred. We can increase the thrill of living and our resilience at the same time by remembering all the good things that have happened to us. A great exercise is to cut a piece of flip chart paper in three vertical strips. Then tape the three pieces together. You will have a very long piece of paper. On one end of the paper you can start with the beginning of your life and on the other end finish with the present day, you can list all the good things, the highlights and thrilling moments that have occurred over the course of your life. You may have to add to this sheet of paper, your lifeline, as you allow yourself to remember more of the good things that have happened to you.
- Think of all the friends and family that have demonstrated great love and care for you over your lifetime and the fun times you have had together. Add them to your lifeline.
- Notice the good things that are happening in your day, as they are happening. Let them sink into your mind by savoring them for a moment and reflect on how these good thoughts make you feel better.
- You may also recall some things that haven’t gone well in the past. With time, however, they may have provided you with an unseen benefit. Sometimes these gifts come in the form of learning, perspective or strength. What if one of the reasons these bad things happened was so that you could receive the gift? Consider what you are currently labeling as “bad” in your life. Think of what good might come of these things if you gave the situation some time, effort or perspective. Can you lean into turning the situation into something beneficial?
- On a different sheet of paper write down your negative thoughts and reflect on ways you can reframe the situation. Reframing means that you see the situation from a different perspective. An example is when you find yourself stuck in an airport in a snowstorm and you end up having to wait for 8 hours. A reframe of the situation would be the appreciation of quality time you have with the person you are with, getting some work done or making an adventure out of the situation. You can turn this negative situation into something positive for yourself and those around you.
You can imagine how doing these exercises on a regular basis will increase your resilience levels. You will be able to move through things when you rebalance your thoughts positively and increase your thrill for living. You will have more energy and you can take more positive risks because you realize that so much good can come from engaging positively with the situations you find yourself in when reflecting on your past and your experience of the present moment.
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