Focusing on the positive
I was very inspired by Joan Klagsbrun’s article in the recent BFA newsletter, titled A Focusing Approach to Positive Psychology. In the article, she says how helpful it is to develop positive aspects of ourselves such as courage, optimism, gratitude, resilience, hope and contentment. This makes sense to me. If I can develop these and other positive qualities, I have them available and to hand when I am feeling down, or experiencing some difficulties in my life. Having a positive attitude means that my suffering times are reduced somewhat. And my minor ups and downs tend to have more ‘ups’ than ‘downs’. I don’t eliminate my suffering, but I do give myself the best chance I can for recovery.
I also notice that when I make time for a Focusing session with a partner, my habitual ‘go to’ response is to look for whatever does not feel good in my life. It’s great to give my struggles attention, and they do indeed lessen through the good listening I give to it. But I wonder do I neglect the positive, by always looking for the difficulties in my life? And I wonder how it is for you? How do you build on your positive aspects, and do you give them the attention they deserve?
One time recently when I gave some Focusing time to positive feelings was with my Focusing partner Susan at our BFA gathering weekend. We chose to go outside into the beautiful grounds where we were staying, even though it was cold, and to appreciate and enjoy the natural environment around us. We each had a different way of Focusing with nature. My experience brought a me sense of playfulness, as well as feeling deeply connected and belonging here on planet Earth. I allowed myself to stay with the experience as I felt in my body. I can say that I ‘had’ the experience, meaning that I felt it fully. Even now, I can recall the openness and delight that I felt.
As Joan says, Focusing helps turn a positive event into a positive experience. She has some good tips for doing this. You can take a moment to pause, to savour the experience, and really take that good feeling in. Notice how your body feels. See how you might describe it and notice what qualities are there. Invite more to come from this, asking yourself what is it about this that touches or pleases you.
You could try this out for yourself by practising with the ‘Liking exercise’ on my CD, Focusing in Everyday Life. Use it to remind yourself of good feelings in your life, and give yourself the experience of having that good feeling, whenever you choose to!