How to Rewire Our Brain for JOY in 2022

Happy New Year! Best wishes to everyone for a safe, healthy, abundant, and JOYFUL 2022.

Since my DIL is a neuroscientist, anything that relates to the brain and how it works is a topic of conversation around Casa de Enchanted Seashells.

According to Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Health, Happiness, and Wisdom, we can change our mind–to change our brain–to change our mind.

The beauty of self-directed neuroplasticity means we really can teach old dogs new tricks.

Author Rick Hanson’s premise is that if we intentionally choose positive thoughts, we can change our life for the better.

Here’s an excerpt about JOY:

Internalizing the Positive

1. Turn positive facts into positive experiences. Good things keep happening all around us, but much of the time we don’t notice them; even when we do, we often hardly feel them. Someone is nice to you, you see an admirable quality in yourself, a flower is blooming, you finish a difficult project — and it all just rolls by. Instead, actively look for good news, particularly the little stuff of daily life: the faces of children, the smell of an orange, a memory from a happy vacation, a minor success at work, and so on. Whatever positive facts you find, bring a mindful awareness to them — open up to them and let them affect you. It’s like sitting down to a banquet: don’t just look at it — dig in!

2. Savor the experience. It’s delicious! Make it last by staying with it for 5, 10, even 20 seconds; don’t let your attention skitter off to something else. The longer that something is held in awareness and the more emotionally stimulating it is, the more neurons that fire and thus wire together, and the stronger the trace in memory.

“Focus on your emotions and body sensations, since these are the essence of implicit memory. Let the experience fill your body and be as intense as possible. For example, if someone is good to you, let the feeling of being cared about bring warmth to your whole chest.

“Pay particular attention to the rewarding aspects of the experience — for example, how good it feels to get a great big hug from someone you love. Focusing on these rewards increases dopamine release, which makes it easier to keep giving the experience your attention, and strengthens its neural associations in implicit memory. You’re not doing this to cling to the rewards — which would eventually make you suffer — but rather to internalize them so that you carry them inside you and don’t need to reach for them in the outer world.

“You can also intensify an experience by deliberately enriching it. For example, if you are savoring a relationship experience, you could call up other feelings of being loved by others, which will help stimulate oxytocin — the ‘bonding hormone’ — and thus deepen your sense of connection. Or you could strengthen your feelings of satisfaction after completing a demanding project by thinking about some of the challenges you had to overcome.

3. Imagine or feel that the experience is entering deeply into your mind and body, like the sun’s warmth into a T-shirt, water into a sponge, or a jewel placed in a treasure chest in your heart. Keep relaxing your body and absorbing the emotions, sensations, and thoughts of the experience.”

The Science of Gratitude

Counting your blessings and creating a list of things to be thankful for has a real foundation in science and might even change the way our brains work, according to a brain-scanning study in NeuroImage.

It brings us a little closer to understanding why these exercises have these effects. The results suggest that even months after a simple, short gratitude writing task, people’s brains are still wired to feel extra thankful. The implication is that gratitude tasks work, at least in part, because they have a self-perpetuating nature: The more you practice gratitude, the more attuned you are to it and the more you can enjoy its psychological benefits.

Feeling grateful is very good for you.

Time and again, studies have shown that performing simple gratitude exercises, like keeping a gratitude diary or writing letters of thanks, can bring a range of benefits, such as feelings of increased well-being and reduced depression, that often lingers well after the exercises are finished.

Changing our neural pathways of any old tapes we run of self loathing and lack of self worth and depression with replacement thoughts of being valuable, of deserving love and respect aren’t new ideas but they’re new to ME. Louise Hay is a well-known proponent of positive self talk and affirmations.

Recently, I started sporadically attending  free Friday mediation classes at the Deepak Chopra Center in La Costa because I thought I needed a little jump start to get to the next level of peace, harmony, joy, and NAMASTE.

After one of the sessions, I purchased Deepak’s little book, The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success. I just found a pdf of it here, if you are interested in reading it, too. It’s an easy read with valuable insights and suggestions.

I like knowing that I’m headed on a path toward increased compassion and gratitude, hoping to make the world just a little bit kinder by being more kind and grateful.

The Project of Happiness outlines seven steps toward the goal of a  joyful and fulfilled life.

me-2016

I’m grateful to all of you who read and follow my blog.

What are YOU grateful for today?

*Thanks to http://bulgariastories.com/2015/11/2612/ for JFK image