Savour the Good Stuff

IMG_4978Life is beautiful right now.

Really, it is.

It’s spring. The trees are blossoming all over our neighbourhood. We have this tree in our front yard that’s covered in white flowers. “I don’t remember it being this beautiful last year,” my wife pointed out last night.

And the birds are singing. Robins are ordinary enough, but this spring they’ve been particularly loud in our backyard. And I’m pretty sure they’ve come with a new repertoire of songs as well, they keep surprising me with new sounds.

To top it all off, in Manitoba we’re looking at a sunny May long weekend, for probably the first time in recorded history. (And the mosquitoes aren’t out yet, Manitobans are also quick to point out).

On a family level, our oldest daughter learned how to ride a bike without training wheels (she has the scrapes and bruises to prove it), and our youngest has recently left diapers behind. This is a level of freedom we haven’t known in years! Now we’re spending a couple nights/week on the soccer field, which is simply awesome.

So much good stuff.

Despite all that good stuff, and how beautiful the world is, it’s amazing how easy it is to completely miss all of it. Sometimes it feels like we’re wired to only notice the bad and only focus on what’s broken.

In a recent podcast Richard Rohr pointed to the research that shows that this might truly be the case. We might actually be wired with a negative bias, as he calls it.

Dan O’Grady, a psychologist and Living School student, told me recently that our negative and critical thoughts are like Velcro, they stick and hold; whereas our positive and joyful thoughts are like Teflon, they slide away. We have to deliberately choose to hold onto positive thoughts so that they can “imprint”…

Neuroscience can now demonstrate the brain indeed has a negative bias; the brain prefers to constellate around fearful, negative, or problematic situations. In fact, when a loving, positive, or unproblematic thing comes your way, you have to savor it consciously for at least fifteen seconds before it can harbor and store itself in your “implicit memory;” otherwise it doesn’t stick.

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I’m terrible at savouring the good stuff. I usually lean towards task mode, or focus entirely on what’s happening next.

To stop,

listen,

watch,

taste,

doesn’t come naturally to me.

Thank God for the Mary Olivers of the world, who help us to see.

Instructions for living a life:
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.

This weekend may you savour the good stuff. May you notice, listen, taste and see.

Post a picture or write a note on your social feed about something you’re paying attention to, I’m curious what you’re seeing.