While the brain has evolved to focus attention on negative stimuli to keep us safe, we now know that the brain is continually changing its structure, and we can nurture and build a more positive and happy brain. Rewiring our brain toward happiness is based in the understanding that what we practice and repeat starts to become more automatic. The brain takes it’s shape from whatever the mind rests upon, for better or worse.
Experience-dependent neuroplasticity—the capacity of mental activity to change neural structure—is the basis of the work of psychologist and author Rick Hanson, PhD. His focus is how to apply these new scientific findings to change the brain for the better. The essence of the approach is simple: find the neural processes that underlie negative mental factors, reduce them so their neural structures aren’t strengthened and habituated. And find the neural processes that underlie positive mental factors and increase them so they are strengthened and become the default.
To get to the root of the elements necessary to increase happiness, psychologist Elisha Goldstein, PhD, interviewed over 20 highly respected and accomplished people in the field of happiness and well-being. He wanted to hear what their definition of happiness was and discover the practical ways we can make it come alive. He found that one of the things necessary for happiness is self love. Learning how to give more love to ourselves is a key practice that when turned into a habit, becomes a source of well-being and resiliency. He suggests taking a moment to really consider this question: What would the future look like for you if loving yourself came more naturally? What are ways you can show more love and kindness to yourself? A simple yet powerful practice he recommends is giving yourself loving-kindness by putting your hand on your heart and saying to yourself: May I be happy. May I be healthy. May I be safe and free from fear.
At Massage Therapy Center Palo Alto, we know that self love and self care are essential for health, and we understand the importance of a healthy nervous system. When receiving a therapeutic massage, rather than focusing on what is ailing you, you will benefit by feeling yourself as the wholeness that is already within you, inviting appreciation for the wonder and miracle of self-healing supported by your caring therapist. This is a high form of self-love and with repetition, will hardwire a positive neural pathway into your nervous system.