Thursday, July 01, 2010

Mellow out by taking in the good

Many of us have, at one point or another, been accused of focusing too much on the bad, when we should be accentuating the positive.


Well, it turns out our minds are hard-wired that way — to accentuate the negative. Psychologists call it our negativity bias, which shows up in a lot of ways:

  • In a relationship, it typically takes five good interactions to make up for a single bad one.

  • People will work much harder to avoid losing $100 than they will work to gain the same amount of money.'

  • Painful experiences are much more memorable than pleasurable ones.

The solution to a brain that is "tilted against lasting contentment and fulfillment," however, is exceedingly simple: consciously focus on the good things in your life (which probably outnumber the bad). Think about the good. Take in the good. The author of the Psychology Today article linked to above breaks it down into three simple rules:

  1. Look for good facts, and turn them into good experiences.

  2. Really enjoy the experience.

  3. Intend and sense that the good experience is sinking into you.

You will notice that a common theme running through these rules could be called mindfulness, which happens to be a cornerstone of the Philosophy of Tea.

Mindfulness means focusing exclusively on the right now — what we are doing now, what is happening around us now. Mindfulness is about not interpreting what is happening, but rather simply observing what is happening: By not filtering these occurrences through our "negativity filter," we are then better able to see the positivity in them.


The green tea break is the perfect opportunity to practice mindfulness — to relax, shut out all thoughts and feelings, to calm down and simply experience — not interpret — what is happening around us. The luscious aroma, clean taste, and comforting warmth of the tea gives us something mellow to focus on. (And it has ingredients to induce mellowness, too.) After your tea break, you will find yourself more relaxed — and better prepared to take in the positivity around you.


Another simple way to remind ourselves of the good in our lives is to start your day by vocally reciting all the good things in your life, like this unstoppably positive little girl does:





—Mellow Monk

 

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