You may have heard the saying that negative experiences stick like Velcro and positive experiences stick like Teflon. This is due to our genetic ancestry since those who worried about danger even when it was absent survived to pass on their genes, while those who didn’t recognize danger even when it was there did not survive or pass on their genes.
Unfortunately, this inherent negativity bias now only serves to increase your stress level, lower your resourcefulness and prevent the fulfillment of your most purposeful path.
There are two practices that start rewiring your brain to resolve the bias and build a balance, that I credit to Dr. Rick Hanson, neuropsychologist and Buddhist teacher. I suggest you choose one to work with, and set aside enough time to allow for you to sit with and integrate the experience without rushing.
The first practice is to reinforce the truth of the present moment. Notice how it feels to be in your physical environment. Look around and observe the colors, sizes and shapes around you. Then, take a meditative pause and remind yourself by saying out loud:
- “I have enough air to breathe.” Take a moment to savor this before moving on.
- “I have enough shelter from the weather, intruders and wild animals.” Take a moment to savor this.
- “I have enough food to eat.” And savor this.
- “I have enough caring in my life.” And this.
Take another scan of your environment and notice how it feels now. Give yourself a few minutes to savor the experience.
The second option is to take in and savor the good that exists in your life. Reflect on your day or the past few days. What successes can you celebrate, no matter how small? For each one of these that you identify, take in the good for at least 30 seconds to help it land in long term memory.
Then, notice how it feels to have a more resourced brain. Reflect on what has been stopping you from living the most purposeful life. What becomes possible from this new place? What next steps will you take towards the fulfillment of your purpose?
These are practices that you can use whenever you run into obstacles in the pursuit of your purpose. Have fun with it!