One of the advantages of reading a lot around relationships and happiness in general is that I often discover why I have a particular experience, in this case, why I feel happy most of the time and why I no longer go into catastrophizing or panicking mode, as I used to.
I just started reading this fantastic book, ‘Hardwiring Happiness’ by Rick Hanson, a neuropsychologist specialising in changing our brain for the better.
It was a particular section that caused me to understand why my relationship with Paul is as good as it is.
Rick Hanson makes the point that our prehistoric ancestors were busy scanning for threats because their survival depended on it.
Unfortunately, that behaviour is now embedded in our reptilian brain which is hundreds of millions of years old and explains why we tend to scan past the good news because we’re busy scanning for something to worry about.
And even positive facts fail to become good experiences because they don’t stay in our awareness long enough, not like our everyday worries.
Hanson suggests that, for a positive experience to make a difference like those myriad of fleeting uplifting moments that we come across every day that we hardly notice, to become part of our conscious experience, we have to stay with that experience for 5, 10 or 20 seconds or longer. Only then will that experience become ‘sticky’ and become part of our long term memory rather than just sliding in and out of our consciousness.
What does this have to do with Paul?
I mentioned once I have a love wall next to me in my office, covered with Paul’s little love messages and photographs. I look at them throughout the day and they make me smile.
This means that I’m surrounded by loving and positive messages.
But even more important is that, when Paul says or does something that makes me feel loved, appreciated, listened to or – whatever – I comment on it, say how much I love him saying it, perhaps give him a kiss or a hug.
This does three important things:
- Paul feels acknowledged and valued,
- By saying something about it, I reinforce my positive feelings towards him,
- They embed themselves in my long term memory and become part of how I experience our relationships – and the same applies to him because we both do the same and that shows itself in how we engage with one another.
Of course, the same applies to the negatives when we start focusing on the things that irritate us about our partner, miss opportunities for reinforcing the positive and stay in those negative experiences for those fateful 5, 10 or 20 seconds.
Which experiences do you think will stick in our brain, the positive or the negative ones?
So go on, give it a try.
Start noticing where your mind dwells and, if it’s on the negatives, try refocusing your attention.
With love and gratitude,
P.S. My third book, ‘Open Your Heart: The 7 Secrets Of Strong And Loving Relationships’ is now on Amazon and getting 5* reviews!
P.P.S. I help women grow their self-confidence so they can build fabulous relationships.