[4 Minute Read]
Have you ever been at a point in life where it feels like it's been so long since you've felt happy, relaxed, or optimistic?
This blog is all about strengthening your ability to recall pleasant emotions. Bad feelings stick with us easily but the good ones can be harder to access, especially in times when we’re feeling low or stuck in a depressive episode.
Try these techniques to train your brain to recognize and recall the good things in your life more easily. These would be excellent tools to use in a gratitude practice!
Technique 1: Visualization
Visualization can be a powerful tool to help us recall and experience positive feelings. Here's a quick technique that can facilitate the recall of positive emotions. If you find yourself needing more guidance on memory or emotion recall, check out this article next.
Step 1: Relaxation
Find a quiet and comfortable space where you can relax without distractions. Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, and consciously release any tension or stress from your body. The goal is to create a calm and focused state of mind.Step 2: Setting the Intention
Set the intention to recall and relive a specific pleasant experience or feeling. Visualize yourself immersed in the memory, ready to engage with it fully.Step 3: Stimulate the Senses
Engage your senses by recreating the sensory details associated with the memory. Visualize the colors, shapes, and visual elements of the experience. Imagine the sounds, whether it's laughter, music, or nature sounds. Recall any smells, tastes, or textures that were present during the pleasant experience.Step 4: Vivid Imagery
Create a vivid mental image of the entire scene (Technique #2 also aids in this). Imagine yourself being present in that moment, as if you are watching a movie or experiencing it firsthand. Pay attention to the details and make the visualization as realistic and immersive as possible.Step 5: Emotional Connection
Tap into the emotions and feelings associated with the pleasant experience. Recall how you felt during that moment - whether it was joy, love, excitement, or contentment. Allow those positive emotions to wash over you as you visualize the memory.Step 6: Replay the Experience
Mentally replay the experience from beginning to end. Take your time to relive each moment, engaging with the details and emotions. If there were particular highlights or significant moments, focus on them and allow them to unfold in your mind. If you’d like, you can physically act out your movements or even repeat words from the memory aloud. This can help you better connect with what your feelings were in those moments.Step 7: Reflection and Appreciation
After you've completed the visualization, take a moment to reflect on the positive emotions and sensations that arose. Appreciate the experience and the impact it had on you. Express gratitude for having had that pleasant experience in your life. Remind yourself that you can access this memory and these feelings again, if you feel the need.
Technique 2: Create a Reminder
There's a reason most of the world uses the internet to look up cat photos and cute pet videos. Research suggests that looking at photos of things we love or enjoy increases the “happy” chemicals in our brain. Try this fun, creative activity to improve recall of positive feelings.
- Look for photos you’ve taken during a happy moment (if you don’t have any, start to document moments where you feel even fleeting happiness, or find pictures online that remind you of the moment). These don’t have to be vacations or big events with other people — they can be selfies of you or things you love.
- Next, print them out. Somewhere on the photo, write why you chose this picture.
- Punch holes in the tops and string a ribbon through to turn them into a garland, or put the photos into an album that you keep by your bed. Put it somewhere you’ll see it. If you can’t print your photos, make an album in your phone of photos that bring you joy.
- Look at the photos once a day (before bed would be a nice time) and try to describe the feelings or sensations you experienced in those moments.
Technique 3: Mindful Focus
Practicing mindfulness can improve our ability to find joy in the moment. When we’re mindful, we’re grounded in the present. We can better recognize the good things around us and “tap into” how that moment made us feel at a later time. Practice breathing deeply (in through your nose, then out through your mouth) when you go for a walk. Point out your bodily sensations to yourself. Try to find 1 or 2 things that you like in your surroundings. Cut down on multitasking. Do things in silence, even just one minute at a time. Give your brain space to focus on the moment.Try these techniques and let us know in the comments below how they worked for you!