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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Increase your PQ

Increase your PQ*
With thanks to Rick Hanson, Ph.D., for his work Hardwiring Happiness

What's a PQ? It's your *Positivity Quotient. This isn't like the positive psychology movement AT ALL. Your PQ is a resource to be used when times are tough, when you're struggling and wanting to shift your emotional state from fear, frustration or heartache to happiness.

Happiness isn't intended to be a means to an end, as so many these days believe. Our PQ is a resource to use when we face adversity. 

Our minds tend to "default" to remembering negative events, recalling them more vividly than the positive things in our lives. This is how our brains are wired, it's how we learn and remember what causes us pain so we can keep ourselves safe. The problem is that our worlds now are filled with stress and we have to make a real effort to remember and relish the positive in order to use it as a resource.

The underlying "trick" is that we get more of what we pay attention to. If we pay more attention to the positive events that help us feel happy, we change our state of mind. That doesn't mean we ignore what's actually happened. It starts with first understanding that there are 3 ways to engage the mind:

1. Let it be. Be with the event. Be a witness to the pain and struggle. Everyone (and I mean EVERYONE) experiences suffering or sorrow at some point in their life. Some experience it more than others. To "let it be" is to acknowledge it without trying to change it. 

2. Let it go. Release what's negative deliberately. Once we've allowed ourselves to witness our own pain, the next step is to consciously let it go. It's like pulling weeds: we want to clear space for something better to come in.

3. Let it in. Cultivate the positive. Replace the memory of the "negative" event with positive ones related to your strengths and endurance. This way, positive events become resources to you. In this case, it's like planting flowers where the weeds were. You cleared the space and when you cultivate happiness, you're putting your energy into what you really want in that space.

The steps for cultivating the positive that Dr. Hanson outlines spell HEAL.

So, how do we HEAL from our negative events? 

Have a positive experience. Recall a time when you were happy, satisfied, content or loved.

Enrich the experience. Recall every aspect of the positive experience: how you felt emotionally and in your body, what you saw and heard, as well as any unique aspects of the experience. Really "set" it in your body-mind.

Absorb the experience fully. Savor the positive experience for 10-30 seconds, allowing it to permeate and radiate throughout your mind and body.

(This one is optional, but helpful)
Link the positive experience with a negative one so the positive experience becomes an antidote for the negative. Like the pulling weeds and planting flowers metaphor above, this step encourages you to remember both the negative and positive events around the same time so you're using the memory of the negative event as a reminder to move into the positive. Over time, the mind-body pairs the more positive feelings with the original event and brings itself to a more calm state.

Bottom line: Have happiness and Enjoy it.

Spend more time -- consciously -- remembering and creating happy moments.

Repeat daily. MANY times a day!

Let me know how it goes!

Yours in transformation,
Suzan K. Thompson, Ph.D.

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