Training Your Brain for JOY


What beautiful days we have been having in Adelaide! Perhaps the emergence of the sun has given you the lift, or the practical support, to get outside and enjoy activities that are good for both your mood and physical health (I'll tell you about an upcoming group that may also help below). You may be using this season to delight in the beautiful flowers blooming, or the birds chirping... or, you may not be...

Did you know that the human brain is actually preferentially wired to notice and remember unpleasant moments? (It's a survival thing - being aware of the 'dangerous' experiences historically kept you alive.) The consequence of this is that your brain becomes wired to thinking patterns that further promote suffering - even when, in actual fact, positive experiences may be outweighing the negative. What does this mean for you? Brain training. I don't mean that you need to get an app to do brain exercises (although I have heard they can be fun). I mean that you can train your brain to notice the positive experiences of your day more fully. As you focus on savouring moments of joy in your day, your body may shift its hormonal state and new neural wiring is built. This transformation works to keep the negative balance in check, which supports mental wellbeing, and even supports enhanced immune function!

Does all of this sound interesting to you? My challenge to you this season is to really enjoy the smell of a fresh coffee, to delight in watching a bee move between flowers, to reflect on your nice qualities and strengths, to celebrate a captivating movie, and so on. When you notice these positive experiences, practice moving into the experience with your whole being - really feeling it - and allowing it to last 5, 10, 20, maybe even 30 seconds. Notice how it then feels in your emotional body. Maybe notice how this experience changes with practice, and how your focus changes over the days.

To help with all of this I have made you a weekly 'calendar' to note three daily moments of joy - click here to download it. The idea of the calendar is that you indulge in the positive moment as it is happening, but then you allow your mind and body the chance to re-live the joy when you write it down in your calendar later. It's an extra opportunity for joy and for healing.

Let me know how you go with all of this! I would love to hear your experiences and feedback - contact me here.

#wellbeing #psychologist #mentalhealth #clinicalpsychologyadelaide #therapyadelaide #joy #positivepsychology

© 2017 by Kaitlin Harkess, Ph.D.