Recent neuropsychology research suggests that “positive neural traits are built from positive mental states." So, how do we install good experiences in our brains so they can increase our experience of happiness? Mindfulness expert Julie Potiker, author of the new book, Life Falls Apart, but You Don’t Have To: Mindful Methods for Staying Calm In the Midst of Chaos,joined us to share what she explains as “what fires together, wires together.”
“It’s wild to think about, but it’s true: We can change our brain,” Julie says. “It is the fundamental notion of experience-dependent neuroplasticity. Our thoughts and emotions fire neurons in our brains, which then wire together and form new neural circuits. What fires together, wires together.”
In other words, we have to install positive mental states into our conscious mind more often — and on purpose — in order to naturally access such positive mental states with more frequency. “In order to give a good mental state time to implant in your brain,” Julie explains, “make sure to really feel it for a couple of breaths. Make it as intense a feeling for as long as you can to ensure that it becomes a positive neural trait.”
To help people achieve this, Julie teaches the H.E.A.L. method, created by neuropsychologist Rick Hanson:
- H = Have a good experience.
- E = Enrich it to install it.
- A = Absorb it as if you are filling your body up with the good feeling of the experience.
- L = Link positive and negative material. This optional last step is about linking the positive experience with a memory of a negative experience to try to supplant the bad with the good.
“After making a daily practice of taking in the good for a couple of years,” Julie shares, “I can tell you I have rewired my brain. I’m sure people think it’s strange when I say that, but there is no question that I am a happier, more resilient person than I was five years ago.”
You don’t even need to use the anagram in order to remember to take in a good mental state. “Whenever you have a great feeling, take it in for a few breaths and relish it,” she continues. “Do this often and you will begin to experience the beauty of rewiring your brain for happiness.”
For more information, visit Julie's website.