You are never too old to rewire your brain for more happiness and resilience. There is a fabulous YouTube video seen by more than half a million people called “Confessions of a Jewish Mother: How My Son Ruined My Life.” Selma Baraz, the late mother of James Baraz (of “Awakening Joy” fame) recounts how much she used to love to complain and worry and how, when her son was visiting, he got so sick of all her negativity that he taught her a gratitude practice which caused her to eventually rewire her brain for more happiness.
The video is hysterical because she is already in her nineties, and her delivery and timing are just perfect. She really loved her life of kvetching, and I honestly think she was shocked that she could let that all go. But let it go she did; and her last few years were more serene!
How wonderful to figure that out, even late in life.
Here is a helpful technique created by Rick Hanson, author of “Hardwiring Happiness,” that you can use to start rewiring your brain for happiness today, regardless of your age:
H = Have (or intently recall) a good experience.
Figure out what good experience would help to fill the needs you have right now. For example, if you’re feeling lonely, resentful or hurt, take in experiences where you feel appreciated and which provide a sense of belonging. If you feel worried and helpless, install experiences where you feel safe, strong and relaxed.
E = Enrich it to install it.
Give the good mental state time to install in your brain in order to turn it into a positive neural trait. This means really letting yourself feel it for a couple of breaths.
Enjoy filling your body up with the good feeling of the experience. Make it as intense a feeling as you can for as long as you can.
L = Link this positive experience to a current or past negative experience.
Try to supplant the bad with the good. Then focus on the good experience and enjoy it!