What’s Going Right? – Keeping a Record of Pleasant Events

Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy encourages clients to take note of what is going right.  We are hard-wired to scan our environment for danger.  This capacity is what has kept us alive and evolving over the millenia.  However, this nervous system response, if left unchecked can have negative consequences on our physical well-being as well as our psychological outlook.  In their book, Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Depression, Second Edition, Zindel Segal, Mark Williams, and John Teasdale share exercises to combat our tendency to focus on what is going wrong, and foster awareness of what is going right.

Keeping a record of positive events can help counter our natural tendency to scan our environment for what is going wrong.

The record of pleasant events exercise encourages clients to spend more time thinking about pleasant events and consequently feeling the pleasant emotions that go with the event.  This is not about reliving monumental joyous events, but rather noticing the small moments of daily pleasure that we often overlook.

Last Fall I attended a mindfulness-based cognitive therapy training with Susan Woods and Miriam London at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health.  At the training we were asked to give the record of pleasant events a try.  There are five steps to the process:

1.  Recording the event

2.  Asking yourself if you noticed  pleasant sensations during the event

3.  Noting in detail physical sensations that occurred during the event

4.  Noting your mood, feelings and thoughts that accompanied the event

5   Noticing you mood in the present moment while your are remembering and recording the event.

I can give you a personal example:  1.  The event:  Last weekend I asked my teenage daughter to help me take pictures of nature for mindful hub.  She graciously agreed.  2.  Did  I notice pleasant sensations during the event?:  I was aware during the event that I was happy that my daughter was agreeable.  3.  Did I notice physical sensations?:  I was aware that the day was cold and drizzly, but we were in a beautiful setting and enjoying the walk.  3. Did I notice my mood, thoughts or feelings?:   I felt a little annoyed that it was such a cold day for June, but that feeling was overtaken by the pleasant feeling of watching my daughter take the pictures.  4.  What is my mood  as  I recall the event?:  As I write this I am reliving the positive emotions and I’m happy I have such a nice daughter.  You can see how this exercise might counteract a day where I’m focusing on what’s going “wrong” with my relationship with my daughter or doubting my parenting skills.

Have you tried being mindful of pleasant events?  Let us know what works for you?

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  • I love this! What an inspiring idea. This is the perfect before-bed practice to keep negative thought cycles from delaying sleep.

  • Glad you like it Kayleigh – It can be the smallest pleasant event that can steer your brain in a positive direction. The more you practice the more you are rewiring your brain to be less reactive.

    sweet dreams sweetie!

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