“Have a nice day” – how about even 45 minutes?
It was one of THOSE days. Nothing overly disastrous. Just little glitches and annoyances, one after the other, with glimmers of gladness and goodness before the next wave of yuck.
Three-car accident on the freeway, 15 minutes of creep and crawl for us commuters, fortunately no one killed or seriously injured in the accident itself, but wear and tear on patience for all involved.
A pleasant stretch, then accessing voice mail which had been working fine 15 minutes ago blocked by “we don’t recognize this PIN.” (Same PIN for three years.) Folks at the phone company pleasant and helpful enough. Another pleasant stretch.
Stubbed my toe on the stairs going out to mail a letter. Not the worst thing in the world, pain and chagrin subsiding after a new moments.
But when a colleague in the hall wished me “Have a nice day!” my immediate response was, really, a nice next 45 minutes would be plenty.
Life has its ups and downs. We know that; we say that all the time. Navigating those ups and downs can take attention and practice. On this particular day, I found myself very intentionally practicing the good practice of taking in the good. Recalling a moment earlier that day – a delicious breakfast of eggs and granola-berries-yogurt; anticipating a pleasant moment later that day – looking forward to seeing a really good film with two really good friends. Not to distract or deny, but simply to re-balance the functioning of my brain and shift my view to a larger perspective.
I do wish you a nice day. I also wish you many moments of goodness woven throughout the day as it is.
Exercise: Taking in the Good [adapted with gratitude from Rick Hanson, Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence
1. Pause for a moment, and remember ANY experiences of goodness, gladness, joy, delight or awe that you have experienced earlier today, earlier this week, or remember from the past. Maybe your neighbor brought over some left-over but still delicious lasagna; maybe your dog did a somersault of welcome when you came home last night. Or anticipate something pleasant in the near future – walking through a beautiful park on the way home from work; attending a concert by your favorite-of-all-time musician(s).
2. Attune to the felt sense of the goodness of this moment — a warmth in your body, a lightness in your heart, a little recognition of “Wow, this is good!”
3. Focus your awareness on this felt sense of goodness for ten to thirty seconds. Savor it slowly, allowing your brain the time it needs to really register the experience and store it in long-term memory.
4. Set the intention to evoke this memory five more times today, especially in the moments that have gone a little wonky. This repeats the neural firing in your brain, recording the memory so you can recollect it later, making it a resource for your own sense of emotional well-being, and helping you ride out the moments of the day that haven’t been so easy.
5. As you experience and reexperience the moment, register that not only are you doing this, you are learning how to do this. You are becoming competent at creating new neural circuitry for resilience.