“Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are”.
~ Marianne Williamson
We humans have a built in default of negative thinking. Its part of our survival mechanism that the ego has reenforced ever since we were little. We are alert to scarcity and threats.
So for many of us, it feels natural to go around looking for what is wrong and criticizing things, other people … and of course, ourselves. We may not even be aware of it.
Negativity feels acceptable and normal.
Anything comfortable becomes our preferred state. Even when we feel miserable. After all “better the devil you know … ”
When we are in this state, the idea of positive thinking is likely to be rejected as ridiculous and fake. Remember, this inner critic is our ego wanting to protect that ways things are. If we were to be more positive and less fearful, it would lose its power over our thinking and behavior.
Yet, how did our thinking get to be like this? Through continued reinforcement of judgments and habitual thinking.
Neuroscience shows us that we can change our thinking by reenforcing new neural circuits in the brain. With practice, our brains are able to grow and change.
We are not hard wired in our thinking. Just hard headed sometimes!
Here are some ideas to inspire you into shifting your thinking and creating new neural pathways:
- Instead of looking for what’s wrong. Look for what’s right. For example, write a post it note and keep it with you all day as a reminder. Or catch one of your children or an employee doing something right!
- As you pause, take a moment to look at something ordinary as something to be grateful for. For example, sitting at the table with your family tonight. Or watching the sun shine through the leaves.
- Before going to sleep reflect on 3 things that you are grateful for.
- Keep an achievement journal. Write down everything that you accomplish, including the small stuff. We usually filter out our strengths and accomplishments and focus on our losses and weakness. Balance out your thinking by writing down the good times! You will be surprised.
Recognizing these moments will start to transform your neural pathways into ones that recognize how good things really are. This is where joy lives.