Do you ever do this?
Yesterday, when I was driving to work I did it. I caught myself feeling happy! That’s right. It’s an easy mindfulness technique that I like to use.
Sometimes life moves so fast that when we experience moments of joy, contentment, happiness or other positive emotions, we may be somewhat or momentarily aware, but then the feelings disappear as we focus on what’s next, what we still have to do, where we have to be, what we have to pick up for dinner. You know the routine.
It’s important to note that positive emotions are linked to increased happiness, decreased stress and also a longer life…so the more positive emotions we experience…the better.
Unfortunately, when we don’t stay with the good feeling … we miss the chance to appreciate it. We don’t get to really roll around in it and enjoy it to the fullest. That’s where the mindfulness piece comes in. It allows us to pause long enough to be present in the moment so that we can experience the benefit that positive emotions bring.
And just as important, if we race through the feeling without pausing, we miss the opportunity to recreate that feeling or condition so that we can enjoy it again and again.
That’s right! These positive emotion occasions don’t have to be hit or miss, one off’s or random occurrences!
Feelings of joy. Moments of happiness and contentment, optimism, awe and wonder, hope, love, silliness. Who doesn’t want more of these?
It’s exciting to realize that these emotions can be ours anytime if we know what it takes to create them.
Interested? Let me show you how to do it.
Step 1. Catch Yourself
Try to make a practice of catching yourself whenever you are feeling happy, relaxed, having fun or when you are having a good day. Once you notice it…name the feeling and then live with it for a few moments, linger and enjoy the feeling.
Step 2. Work Backwards
Once you’ve caught the feeling and relished in it…pause for a moment to consider the conditions that led to the feeling or circumstance.
Work backwards… what were you doing and thinking prior to realizing you were happy (or whatever positive emotion you were feeling).
For example, yesterday when I was driving to work and caught myself feeling happy, it was easy to see what conditions led up to this.
- I was feeling rested after a good sleep the night before.
- I broke out of my humdrum breakfast routine and made myself something different for breakfast.
- I did a 10 minute guided breathing meditation. My mind was clear and I was feeling relaxed.
- I took my handsome hounds out for a long walk and was grateful for the mild weather and an early sunrise.
- I brewed some of my favorite coffee (Italian Dark Roast) to take with me as a treat in the car.
- I also noticed I wasn’t feeling rushed or behind schedule.
Working backwards, it was easy to see all of the things that contributed to my elevated mood on my drive to work. Do I need all of these things to be happy? Of course not. But I do know that they certainly help me to feel relaxed and at my best. They set me up to have a good day.
Step 3. Re-Create
Once you’ve worked backwards and have identified the things or thoughts that contributed to the positive feeling… you have all of the information you need.
Repeat some of them or all of them and voilà!
Just like magic, you can be intentional and recreate the feeling to enjoy it all over again.
Cheers to feeling more positive emotions!