Archives for posts with tag: negative bias

I’ve had so many lovely moments in life. Haven’t you, also? I find myself wondering occasionally how it is that the unpleasant ones so easily get the upper hand in my implicit memory, and biases over time. The ‘negative bias’ of our primate brains is kind of a big downer, isn’t it? The time taken to savor simple joys, sweet moments, pleasant happenstance, and all the bits and pieces of positive experience I enjoy day-to-day is very worthwhile; it helps shift my negative bias to a less negative place. Re-wiring, re-programming, and ‘correcting’ these sorts of things is arduous work, requiring considerable attention to details, and commitment to repetition and structured practices.  It’s the moments that follow all that practice that count so much; the result of the effort to practice my consciousness away from my negative bias isn’t always obvious… but sometimes it is obvious, indeed.

This morning I am enjoying a tasty latte, an unexpected treat made by my traveling partner’s loving hand first thing this morning, and I am considering future moments. I guess ‘daydreaming’ is another way to frame it up. I am contemplating experiences I know I enjoy, in the setting of simply enjoying my life, and letting that vision unfold a bit like a video. What does my life look like, without struggling, striving? With less background stress? With greater moment to moment acceptance, self-acceptance, and calm? If the details of my surroundings suit my taste, and meet my needs? If the colors, textures, and forms in my spaces were selected specifically to uplift, to nurture, and to evoke delight and wonder? To inspire me creatively and to foster creative work? What would my mornings be like? How would my days end? How would the trajectory of my experience change? Where would such a path take me?

Perspective is worth changing, and changing again.

Perspective is worth changing, and changing again.

If the only thing standing between you and the life you envision as most enjoyable for you is your own choices… do you change the choices you are making? Does the answer to that question change if the question is not about what you enjoy, but is more about what supports and nurtures your growth and emotional wellness, and meets your needs over time? It does for me; this troubles me because it implies that I place less value and priority on my own desires and satisfaction in life than I do on others, unwilling to make choices in my own favor unless it comes down to basic needs. It’s not a comfortable understanding of my decision-making, and feels out of alignment with my values, and it’s important to know this about myself; I can’t easily change what I don’t recognize as needing change.

I’m not mired in frustration or feeling heartbroken. It’s a lovely quiet morning. I am smiling and enjoying this time, engaged in this moment, enjoying something I love that meets many needs. This is simply a pleasant morning to contemplate developing a higher level of overall life satisfaction through better choices, more skillful quality of life decision-making about my own needs as an individual, and how best to do that without undercutting the needs and desires of the people who share the experience of life and love with me. A morning to consider consideration, and to contemplate balance, while I sip on my coffee.

I smile as I realize how far I have come that I am so comfortable even thinking about putting myself first in my own experience; it wasn’t so long ago that I would have found that quite difficult, even in thought, and closer to ‘impossible’ than ‘uncomfortable’.

Today is a good day to enjoy myself with a smile – exactly as I am. Today is a good day to enjoy each moment with a beginner’s mind, open to the possibilities, and accepting of change. Today is a good day for The Four Agreements. Today is a good day to change my world.

This morning I woke hurting. The hot shower didn’t do much to ease my stiffness, nor did the yoga. Meditation felt natural and balancing and vaguely routine. My coffee is tasty, but lukewarm already. It’s Halloween, and I’m not in costume. (Not out of any meanness or because I’m taking a stand about this or that, I just didn’t because I generally just don’t.) No headache this morning; just the arthritis. I find myself feeling fairly hopeful about the day ahead, based on the beginning bit right here.

I’ll have the house to myself this weekend. I’m neither enthusiastic about it, nor am I concerned; it simply is. I will enjoy the solitude for meditation, painting, and listening to music that falls into the category of “no one else here actually likes this stuff”, and probably turning it up louder than usual. I’ll spend much of the time on household tasks; I dislike coming home to a house that hasn’t been cared for as well as it would have been if everyone was home, so I attempt to get the same workload done that would have been done anyway, to prevent my family having that experience. I’ve never asked anyone if they need that from me. I sometimes work beyond the point at which resentment begins, which seems a poor choice. I make a promise to myself to question that impulse if it arises this weekend…and to ask my family, sometime, what they actually want/need of a homecoming after a weekend away. Perhaps indentured servitude isn’t actually on their list? Silly human primate… mindful service to home and hearth – and love – is on my list.  Mindful service, however, doesn’t cause resentment. lol

The pain I’m in colors my experience, and my words. I feel less fun, less thrilled with life in general, but it isn’t really a big deal – it’s just pain, and I find myself dissatisfied with just allowing it to call the shots this way. I do more yoga, focusing on postures that I know are most likely to ease the pain, and reduce my stiffness. My Rx pain medication starts to kick in, too, which helps.

"Like dreams dying.." I said bleakly one day. "Like dreams drifting within reach" she replied with love and compassion.

“Like dreams dying…” I said bleakly one day. “Like dreams drifting within reach” she replied with love and compassion.

I’m in the middle of a grand adventure, with an exciting story arc, and amazing unpredictable plot twists… it’s my life. Learning to live it, eyes open, engaged, present, and in use of both intention and will, is an adventure like no other. I’m learning so much! Since I started this post without a specific clear inspiration, and in pain, I take a moment between each paragraph for another yoga posture, or a few minutes of meditation, or some moments contemplating a recent good experience or feeling in fullness in the hope of improving implicit memory and reducing negative bias. All of it ‘works’ – meaning to say it is all effective at driving those subtle internal changes of heart, of experience, of… default settings. It all requires practice.

That’s the thing, isn’t it? Practicing doesn’t stop, and there is no ‘perfect’ to reach. Mastery isn’t the goal. The practices themselves are both the experience and the goal. Life is the journey – and the destination. We are here. Now. I am. This is. It’s so easy to stray from what works… a catchy article on Facebook can so easily get my attention before I pause to meditate, and find me having used up all the time I planned in the morning for meditation… days later, I could easily find that I’ve stopped meditating in the morning, and begun reading the news. Again. Frankly, reading the news in the morning correlates directly to the very factual and real experience of my blood pressure going up, staying up, and requiring medication. Meditation, on the other hand, does not. Quite the contrary, once I gave up reading the news as a practice, my blood pressure has since tended to be quite normal, and I don’t take blood pressure medication any more. It’s easy to fall back on poor choices, not because they have more value than good choices, but because [and this is my own experience, only] they were practices I practiced for so long before practicing better practices that they easily become the practices I return to; neurons that fire together, wire together. Habits are habitual. We become what we practice most. What we practice is easiest to do.  Reading the news is just an example of one problematic practice I struggle to let go of; I read so chronically, that words in my visual field are incredibly difficult to refrain from reading. You probably have your own problem practices, or old habits that don’t support taking the best care of you, or foster your development to become the being you most want to be.

So, here it is Friday. The weekend is imminent for many of us. What will I do with it to become more the woman I most want to be? What will I choose to practice that will tend to result in being more kind, more compassionate, and treating myself and others truly well – no strings attached? What practices will I commit to each day that ease my suffering, and the suffering of others? What choices can I make that improve the world I live in? Today is a good day to commit to being the best of who I am. It’s Halloween. Today is a good day to take off the mask.