We hear it all the time – the importance of appreciating ‘what is’.
That’s easy when we’re getting a massage, or curled up on the couch with a favourite novel, or dancing with our BFF at a great concert, or cruising along in our car on a sunny day with just the right soundtrack.
But what about appreciating the less exciting bits of life? Doing our tax prep, going to the dentist, folding laundry, handling the unexpected crisis at work, hearing an unwelcome diagnosis – surely those are harder to appreciate?
It’s true that in difficult or challenging situations, we need to allow and honour our emotions in the redhot moment. But after that, we humans have a unique capacity that other species don’t appear to have – the gift of hedonic gloss.
Hedonic what now?
It’s the term brain scientists use to describe how when humans experience pleasure, we seem to ‘paint’ it with a kind of extra shininess, a rosy glow of delight.
If you’ve ever stood in front of a painting and thought “oh, I LOVE that painting! the colours, the composition – it’s so beautiful!” then you’ve experience hedonic gloss. It’s linked to a conscious awareness of experiencing pleasure, and we can use it to our benefit.
That’s because we also know that humans can – to some degree – turn up or down the amount of hedonic gloss with which something is painted. This is how an acquired taste works. It’s thanks to this ability to change the hedonic gloss that I learned to adore asparagus and loathe sugar in my tea. We’ve all done it – the good news is, we can do it consciously.
It looks a lot like ‘appreciating what-is’. And we know from the brain science that it’s a brilliant way to prime ourselves for positivity, which gives us all kinds of fabulous brain benefits…. and that, in turn, opens up the horizons of possibility and unlocks the door to our dream life.
So how do we amp up our hedonic gloss? It’s easy – become aware, then practise. Start with the easy stuff.
Take something everyday, and paint it with that glow of pleasure. You’ll be amazed.
Folding laundry might mean spending a few minutes feeling the softness of fabric against your skin, or smelling the fresh scent of clean clothes, or admiring the cleverness of your organisational skills, or gazing for a few seconds at the vivid colours ranged on your shelves.
Doing tax prep might mean basking in the feeling of achievement for every invoice you file, every entry you make in your spreadsheets, every calculation that adds up; and you can boost it up by having a playlist of favourite music to keep your toes tapping or to calm your mind.
Even in challenging situations, once we’ve allowed our initial emotional response, we have the opportunity to gently ask “how might I find something in this situation to appreciate?”.
When my father died, there were so many blessings around the event – family and friends rallying around; moments of deep connection; hilarious laughter in his hospital room as we told stories; the beauty of his funeral service; the delight of sharing our memories of him.
Each and every one became an opportunity for appreciation – which in turn made the grieving process flow much more easily.
Finding a way to increase our hedonic gloss – even by a few degrees – reduces resistance and enhances flow. And that’s always a good thing.
I love to find ways in my everyday life to paint on a little hedonic gloss, because I know it’s lifting my vibration and helping open the doors to Universe to bring me what I’m manifesting. But also because – let’s face it – it’s way more fun to live in as much pleasure as we can manage. Who’s with me? I’d love to know if you have any favourite ways to amp up appreciation in your everyday life – please share in the comments!