Savoring the Good Things in Life
Research shows that it is not always true that when people have good experiences, they naturally feel joy for it. By focusing on becoming mindfully engaged and aware of feelings in the moment, the results can help in increasing happiness in one’s life. Some benefits can include stronger relationships, improved health mentally and physically, and getting creative with ways to solve problems.
According to the studies of Fred Bryant, a social psychologist at Loyola University Chicago, there are steps you can take to help in developing skills to savor the good things in life. These were not specifically written for people undergoing cancer treatments so it is important to recognize that there are struggles which will and should cause negative emotions. It is important to give room for those feelings in your life. We, however, want to share some of these strategies, not because we think feeling positive all the time is the ultimate goal, but rather we want to help equip you with coping strategies that help to build more positive emotion. Having cancer can deplete your ability to see and feel good. Many patients and family members practice these strategies. However, a little refresher might be helpful, and we hope it can become another source of tools for living your best life, despite cancer. Here are some of the steps recommended by Dr. Bryant.
- Share with others your good feelings – Most people like to share good news, and it is suggested that people also share positive events. This can be sharing with others how you feel appreciative of a certain moment or laughing about an incident taking place with others. Even just thinking of telling others good news helps to feel happier, whether or not the news actually ends up being shared.
- Take a mental photograph – Take time to be consciously aware of good things. This could mean taking a walk and enjoying the nature around you. Tell yourself, “This is great. I’m loving it.” By practicing looking for positives; negative thoughts become less important.
- Congratulate yourself – Pat yourself on the back when you are doing a great job. Take credit for your hard work and revel in successes so that you are more likely to enjoy the outcome.
- Get in touch with your senses – Focus on sharpening your sensory perceptions. An example of this could be to slow down during meals to enjoy every bite even more. Remove distractions and hone in on one of your senses, like taste or smell. You could also close your eyes while taking it all in.
- Make some noise – Laugh out loud, jump for joy, and shout when something great happens! Be outwardly expressive with your good feelings to help you feel extra positive feelings. When you see something funny, do not hold it in but express your feelings of happiness.
- Absorb positive feelings – Do not hesitate when finding yourself losing your sense of time and place from being absorbed in the moment. This could be from enjoying a piece of art or doing a task that makes you feel good. Try not to get distracted by technology or the need to multitask.
- Take stock of things for which you are thankful – Tell loved ones how you appreciate having them in your life or take time to be thankful for your daily events such as food before a meal, the ability to be with loved ones. Challenge yourself to think of something different for which you are grateful every night before you go to sleep to get in the habit of appreciating..
- Avoid negative thinking – While having a cancer diagnosis and treatment can create many negative experiences and giving room for the feeling is important, it can be useful to be able to re-channel your thoughts that are not helpful. If you are experiencing a rough day, try to not to center your focus only on the negative things that have happened. Try to look for other parts of the day that might have been positive and spend some time identifying those.
- Remind yourself of how quickly time flies – Realize that life is not endless for any of us. Consciously make an effort to enjoy good moments when they happen and before they pass. This can be applied to past and future events as well. Remember past times that brought you great joy or imagine a time in the future that you are looking forward to and imagine the possibility of the good memories it will bring.
For more information on tips to enjoy the good things in life, go to Greater Good’s article at: http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/10_steps_to_savoring_the_good_things_in_life
To read Simms/Mann UCLA Center’s past blog post on “Gratitude and Health,” go to: https://www.simmsmanncenter.ucla.edu/index.php/2014/12/29/gratitude-health/