You can definitely try this at home! There are three steps to Rick Hanson’s “Taking in the Good” technique:
1. Teach kids to notice the good things that are all around them. Practice actively looking for the positive: Those flowers we planted in the fall are blooming; our neighbor was so nice to help us with a difficult project; school was particularly fun today. Regular gratitude practices, as discussed here, help with this. The key, according to Hanson, is to “turn positive facts into positive experiences.”
2. Draw out—really savor—those positive experiences. This aspect changed the way my kids and I do our “3 good things” practice at bedtime. The idea is not just to hold something positive in our awareness for as long as possible, but also to remember the positive emotions that go along with them. Now my kids list something that is good about their day (e.g., they had fun with their friends) and we really think about how good it felt to be playing and enjoying friendship. This evokes what was rewarding about a “good thing,” and helps use our brain chemistry to strengthen connections associated with the memory.
3. Let it all sink in. Have your kids imagine that the good thing you were just talking about “is entering deeply into [their] mind and body, like the sun’s warmth into a T-shirt, water into a sponge, or a jewel placed in a treasure chest in your heart,” as Hanson puts it.
This practice is based on Chapter 4 of Rick Hanson’s fabulous book, Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, & Wisdom (New Harbinger Publications, 2009). You can find a synopsis of this chapter in Greater Good here.
If you would like to download the audio version of this video to listen to in your car or on the go, click the link below.
DOWNLOAD THE AUDIO VERSION HERE.