Recent discoveries in the field of neuroscience have confirmed the theory of neuroplasticity, the process by which neurons can be created, reorganized and improve the efficiency of their communications with each other. One of the exciting implications of neuroplasticity would be that we could deliberately cultivate certain brain states rather than others. In short, we can train our brains for happiness, resilience and compassion, and according to researchers at the University of California at Berkeley, this could indeed be achieved using a method dubbed “HEAL”. This was more specifically developed by Rick Hanson, psychologist, senior member of the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California at Berkeley. The idea behind this method is that by learning to have a positive experience, we develop a greater sense of resilience and self-esteem. These feelings contribute to creating an “upward spiral” in which the good times accumulate, further improving mood. A practice that is all the more interesting if external supports and familiar activities are less available, such as during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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“ This means that even when you have fewer opportunities to do things that make you happy, the “HEAL” method will have internally prepared you for a greater sense of resilience and self-esteem during this time. “, specify specialists in an article seemed knownr Psychology Today. The researchers started from the observation that, apart from the belief that people are born optimistic or not, it is possible to help strengthen the capacity of everyone to make the most of positive experiences thanks to this state of mind. This is indeed the conclusion made by Dr. Rick Hanson in his book “Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence” released in 2013.” Why is it easier to ruminate on bad feelings than bask in the warmth of being liked? Because your brain evolved to learn quickly from bad experiences and slowly from good ones, but you can change that. But every day is filled with opportunities to develop inner strengths. In a few minutes a day, you can turn your brain into a refuge and a power center of calm and happiness.»underlines the specialist in the book.
HEAL is the acronym for “Have, Enrich, Absorb and Link” and it works in four steps.
Step 1: Have a positive experience
The first step is to simply have a positive experience, noticing pleasant sensations in your external environment at the moment, for example the calm and quiet atmosphere of the office where I am at the moment. It can also be remembering a good time, things to feel grateful for, or an event to look forward to. In fact, the choice can relate to an experience lived physically, during a specific event for example, or mental via the memory of a good time.
Step 2: Enrich the experience
To enrich the experience as much as possible, keep it active in your awareness by staying with it and focusing on why it is beneficial. It’s about opening up to the bodily sensations, feelings and thoughts associated with this chosen experience and letting them gain in intensity so that it “stands out” more. It is therefore recommended to close your eyes or adopt a relaxed posture.
Step 3: absorb the experience
This process involves three sub-steps, namely making a deliberate effort to internalize it, turning attention to its emotional state, and highlighting the reward value of the experience. It is therefore a question of meditating on this experience and the emotional benefits that can be derived from it. Note that the goal, with practice, is that this state of mind must be anchored, that is to say accessible at all times, to act as a resource that can be called upon in case of need. at another time. For example, after a night out with friends, spend some time reflecting on how socializing made you feel, what it made you appreciate, and what you got out of the experience.
Step 4: Link Positive and Negative Material
Of course, there are many experiences in our lives to which we might struggle to attach positive meaning. But once one has a strong and stable sense of positive experience in the foreground, it is possible to notice related negative content in the background as well. It is then advisable to try to combine these two experiences, by seeing if the current positive disarms the negative a little. By making room for these two types of experiences, the goal is to feel the positive side take precedence over the negative side. For example, if you currently feel included and loved, you can bring up a past when you felt alone. But be careful not to let negative experiences distract you from your practice and cause ruminations. If this happens, simply “let go” of the negative and refocus on the positive.
Thus, if the HEAL method does not therefore make it possible to completely remove feelings related to difficult times, it encourages us to “savor” positive experiences. ” It emphasizes the opportunity to learn new ways to experience the good times in life. Fulfillment may not come naturally to you, but by letting pleasurable experiences change you on a deeper level, those good times can become both more frequent and longer lasting. “, underlines Psychology Today by way of conclusions.
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