A friend of mine suddenly lost her relationship after more than a decade of happiness with her partner. He was the love of her life. After he left, she felt empty and despairing. She talked with her friends, exercised, meditated, and saw a therapist, all of which helped. But her grief still felt intense, and sometimes overwhelming.
Then she decided to add taking in the good to the other things she was doing to feel better, and something began to shift. “When I went for a run,” she told me later, “I felt good. When I stayed with how this felt, it was like the good feelings were soaking into my mind from the body up.” The same thing happened when she took a hot bath and let the relaxation sink in, or took the extra seconds to enjoy the satisfaction she felt when she finished a project at work. “My sadness and hopeless- ness began to pass away.” After a few weeks, she said that taking in good feelings a few times each day had played a real role in easing her sense of loss. “I honestly feel it helped me learn to be happy again.”
Her story is pretty dramatic, but it’s true. My friend didn’t try to paper over her hurt and sadness with positive thinking. She let her grief be, and slowly, over many months, it let go. Along the way, when she could, she let in positive experiences of vitality, relaxation, satisfaction, and eventually joy.
When you tilt toward the good, you’re not denying or resisting the bad. You’re simply acknowledging, enjoying, and using the good. You’re aware of the whole truth, all the tiles of the mosaic of life, not only the negative ones. You recognize the good in yourself, in others, in the world, and in the future we can make together. And when you choose to, you take it in.
The Four Steps of Taking In the Good
Technically, taking in the good is the deliberate internalization of positive experiences in implicit memory. It involves four simple steps:
1. Have a positive experience.
2. Enrich it.
3. Absorb it.
4. Link positive and negative material.