Cultivating Positive Experiences
Last Friday, I was going somewhere around South Jakarta by Gojek. The driver picked me up at home and he asked me,
“Which route do you want to take? Have you ever passed the route beside the river? It’s less traffic-jammed.”
Well, I’m bad at remembering routes so I trust him and answered,
“Oh yes, please. Whatever’s best for you.”
Then, we passed the long straight road beside a river. Please don’t expect that the river view is clear and nice because, in Jakarta, most people with lower socioeconomic status live across the riverside. What I see is brown water on my right side and a railway with some houses on my left.
Although it wasn’t a pretty view, I was really enjoying the ride than others. I could see some people were sitting and talking with each other while sipping their black coffee. Others were trying to clean the river by picking up trashes. Some children were playing on the railway and some mothers were preparing something in their kitchen — Yeah, I could peering inside their house because the door was wide opened. On the other side, blue skies were upon me and the sun shined brightly against the background of the sound of train preparing to depart. It was a mindful experience. I could remember clearly that I felt peaceful and relax. I enriched and absorbed the moment. I feel grateful that I got a chance to see this beautiful view. I feel grateful that I am alive, employed, surrounded by people that I love, and I live well.
“Taking in the good helps you see the good in yourself, and in the world and other people”
- Rick Hanson
Through the Hardwiring Happiness book, Rick Hanson explained that we could develop inner strengths by practicing taking in the good frequently. What he meant by a person’s inner strengths include peacefulness, contentment, and love, as well as resilience, confidence, determination, and insight (Hanson, 2013). Our brains are plastic, meaning that they have the ability to change throughout time. They are able to learn and build neural structures so humans can construct their meaning and able to feel and sense the world. Hence, he suggested that we could rewire the way we think and respond toward positive experiences, in order to be stronger people.
My story above is the concrete example of applying Hanson’s Four Steps of Taking In The Good, called HEAL: Have a positive experience; Enrich it; Absorb it; Link positive and negative material. It is a simple concept. Basically, I ride a bike and enjoyed the scenery which was the process of creating a positive experience. I enriched the moment by taking a deep breath, felt present in the moment. Then, feeling grateful for the good experience. Last but not least, I tried to remember the recent negative feeling that I felt (f.e: sadness and discontent) and realized that I could be happy too, and most importantly, I deserved to be happy. Now, the positive experience has been planted in my brain and I’m planning to cultivate those happy-seeds more.
The world will always full of many problems and life is always going to be hard. But, it doesn’t mean that we are always at the lowest point in life. We could get through it by finding the goods in the bad and taking in it to ourselves. As the title is suggested, this book is all about how to create inner strengths by changing the brain. I would recommend everyone who is currently trying to live happier to read this book. It is science-based, applicable, and light reading.