Today’s exercise comes from Rick Hanson’s book Hardwiring Happiness. It’s an excellent read, and one of the earliest books I found about positive psychology. The main exercise I took away from it is what I mean now by “hardwiring.” This is basically the act of pausing to notice a positive emotion; deliberately amplifying that emotion; and giving myself a short time to soak the emotion in. Usually the entire thing takes less than a minute. There’s certainly more to the book, and it’s worth reading if you haven’t.
Hanson also breaks positive emotions down into three categories – Safety, Satisfaction, and Connection – with seven emotions grouped under each. I actually keep this list on my wall to remind me of some of the things that I can choose to appreciate in any given moment.
I’ve tried to develop a general habit of hardwiring whichever positive emotions come up for me, which I sometimes remember to do, and sometimes don’t. For today’s exercise, I considered trying to focus in on a particular emotion, but then decided to just try to notice and hardwire whatever emotions I could. Perhaps next time I do this exercise, I’ll choose a specific emotion.