Enrich your pleasure experience.
Now that you have some understanding of this concept, it’s time for another great exercise. Mindfulness is a skill that can help you to fully appreciate and experience the pleasurable moments you now notice. Mindfulness essentially is just paying attention. Pay attention when things go well. Notice when you are experiencing something pleasurable. In the midst of that terrible day, perhaps you notice that your lunch was really tasty and left you feeling satisfied, that you got a seat on the train, or that your children did not fight.
It’s virtually impossible for there to be a day when nothing goes well. Notice these moments, and when they occur really be present in them. Pay attention while it’s happening. Notice the physical sensations of tasting that yummy lunch, the relief in your knees and back when you take the seat on the train, the sound of your children playing together. Mindfulness will enrich these moments and make them just as – or even more – powerful as the stressful ones.
Just For Kids
Adapting positive thinking for your children
As a child and family therapist, whenever I come across a great idea or exercise I immediately consider how it can be useful for children. Children are concrete learners, so explaining the vague concepts of the meaning of life, interpretation of events, and perspective taking will likely just bore and confuse them. Instead, I like to put these ideas into action by using fun games. There are a myriad of activities to do with these concepts, but due to finite space I’ll share just two here.
When your child comes home from school complaining about his bad day, here are some ideas of how to help him adjust his frame of mind for positive thinking. The first response, of course, is to hear him out. Validate what he experienced that day and why it bothered him. Then introduce him to a new game. In this game he has a very challenging job that you are positive he can succeed at, he must be the “happy detective.” Tell him to look back at his day and find moments that were good; moments he felt happy. Did the teacher smile at him when he got an answer right? Did he get to play with his friends at recess? Did he enjoy the snack you packed for him? Did he laugh at lunch time? Your child can even carry around a “Super Duper Top Secret Detective” notebook where he can compile lists, descriptions, or pictures of these moments. It can completely alter his way of thinking and may turn into a game the whole family will partake in.
You can also teach your child mindfulness techniques. Help him use his five senses to illustrate how these positive moments feel. Have him describe what the lunch tasted like; the sounds of his friends playing at recesses; the feeling on the soles of his feet when running in the grass; the taste of his snack, etc. This activity will add even more meaning to the positive experiences he has already noticed.
Hopefully this article has given you insight and something to muse about. Techniques you can use today that will affect your mood, perspective, and sense of happiness. Try some of the games with your children and give me your feedback; I’d love to hear how they turn out.