4 Simple Ways to Practice and Enrich Well-Being
By Sandy Schroeder
Some things really are simple; we just over-complicate them. Well-being may be one of those things. Learning to be strong, alert, positive and responsive may be a little like learning to play the cello. Practice really can produce beautiful melodies.
“Well-being is a skill,” according to Dr. Richard Davidson of the Center for Healthy Minds, University of Wisconsin. He encourages us to take four steps: resilience, outlook, attention and generosity, making each one work for us. Each step is based on a flexible, neural circuit in our heads that we can strengthen with practice.
Be strong and resilient - Tough stuff happens to everyone, but not everyone rebounds in the same way. If you have learned to bounce back, you know what a difference that can make. We may not be able to prevent challenges, but we can decide how we react. Learning to protect ourselves from the impact may begin with mindfulness meditation. Finding a quiet place to sit to let the mind’s thoughts stream by unjudged can help us make stronger decisions later. Davidson cautions us that mindfulness meditation takes time to create resilience, but it is definitely worth the effort.
Spot the good things – In contrast to resilience to tough stuff, our outlook can help us actively see the good in others. Learning as much as you can about being compassionate can change the way you see the world. We all know someone who is usually smiling, and another person who never has anything good to say. Opt for the smiles and enjoy making each day a little better. Davidson says regular practice of compassion in your daily travels changes the brain’s circuitry. We find what we look for.
Learn to pay attention – Davidson tells us researchers found adults spend about 47 percent of their time NOT paying attention to what they are doing. Can you imagine how much of an improvement there would be if they were all paying attention most of the time? Learning to stay focused on what you are doing can give you a tremendous edge on the world, and a much clearer view of life. Observe yourself and catch yourself when you are not paying attention. As this becomes a habit, you may get much better day-to-day results.
Reap the benefits of generosity – Research shows the brain enjoys an expanded sense of well-being each time generosity is practiced. Think of how you have felt when you have helped others. Giving can be so much more exciting and rewarding than receiving.
Shaping our minds with resilience, positive outlooks, focused attention and generosity can be simple and addictive. See what you think.
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