3 simple steps to cultivate positive emotions

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Practicing these three steps every day can turn it into a habit—and a great habit that can change your perception of each day.

1. Look for good facts, and turn them into good experiences.

Make a conscious effort to look for positive aspects of every experience. Take active measures to notice the good in both the world and in yourself. As you do this, pay attention to any resistance you encounter within yourself and acknowledge any instinctual attempts to dismiss or deny these positive feelings, but choose not to focus on them. 

It can be as simple as dismissing the negative feedback you got regarding an idea at work or with a creative project and appreciating the two friends who support and understand your idea. 

2. Savor the experience.

Attend to positive experiences. Give yourself ample time (at least 20-30 seconds) to fully enjoy that moment. By elongating our positive sensations, we allow more neurons to fire and wire together in response to the stimulus. This solidifies the experience in our memory.

The next beautiful sunset or cloud formation—cliche example but an important one—what would happen if you stopped for 30 deliberate seconds to look away from your phone, and watch?

We are predisposed to collecting and clinging to negative memories, but we can counteract this by intentionally developing a more diverse stock of positive memories or moments of calm. As we fill our memory with more of these experiences, through the act savoring, we become less reliant on external positive stimuli that are directly about us.  

3. Allow the good experience to sink into you

This is where any mindfulness practice can come in handy, by becoming aware of the different ways that a positive experience affects you. Identify the emotions involved and visualize the positivity spreading throughout your body.

Consider the brain’s plasticity as neurons fire and wire together. When we consciously interact with our positive experiences, we can strengthen their neurological presence in our brains. If we evolved to benefit from negativity bias, but it no longer serves us, why not allow our brains to relax a little?  

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