Practicing taking in a sense of protection, relaxation, pleasure, enthusiasm, self-compassion, feeling like a good person—and of course the hallmarks of the responsive brain: peace, contentment, and love, creates a foundational inner strength that I’ve seen change my own life and the lives of others.

Want to start simple?  Take just a minute on first waking, just before bed, at the start of meditation, or before heading into a challenging situation and do the following:

  • For a breath or three, be aware of what’s generally happening in your mind and body without trying to change it. Find an intimacy with yourself.
  • Start relaxing, letting your breathing soften and slow. Disengage from any worried thinking. Let go of any tension. Touch on a sense of strength and recognize protections such as friends nearby. Notice that you’re all right right now. Rest in a growing peace.
  • Bring to mind one or more things you are grateful for or glad about. Think of something that makes you feel happy. Sense the fullness already present in this moment. Rest in a growing contentment.
  • Bring to mind one or more people (or a pet) who care about you. Let yourself feel appreciated, liked, or loved. Be aware of your own warmth and caring for others. Rest in a growing love.
  • Then get a sense of peace, contentment, and love woven together in your mind, three aspects of a single whole experience of ease and homecoming. Rest in the responsive mind. If you like, imagine moving through your day in this responsive way.
  • Finish up with another breath or two while you sense that peace, contentment, and love are sinking into you.

This is an excerpt from Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Clam, and Confidence by Rick Hanson, Ph.D.

Additional References

Rick Hanson, Shauna Shapiro, Emma Hutton-Thamm, Michael R. Hagerty & Kevin P. Sullivan (2021) Learning to learn from positive experiences, The Journal of Positive Psychology, DOI: 10.1080/17439760.2021.2006759