A few years back I was dealing with an especially challenging time – or what I refer to as my Vortex. My friend Gene said something which has forever stayed with me:
“Nothing is ever as good or as bad as it first appears.”
I love this quote – although at the time it was tough for me to believe that things weren’t as bad as they seemed. I later learned that this was due to something which brain researchers call “resonance.”
Chances are you’ve witnessed “resonance” with guitars. If you pluck the G string on one guitar, the G string on any nearby guitar will have “sympathetic resonance” and start to vibrate as well! If you haven’t experienced this, check it out! It’s very cool.
Brain researchers have discovered that happy thoughts share the same “resonance” in the brain. Ditto with sad thoughts sharing a common “resonance.” When you think happy thoughts the brain then naturally attracts the memories of other happy thoughts – which are all vibrating at the same happy “resonance.” Ditto on sad thoughts attracting similarly resonating sad thoughts.
Basically, your thoughts and memories are “tuned in” at specific frequencies, based on the information they’re encoded with… like: “This is high-level happy stuff” or “this is low-level miserable stuff.” Whatever “resonance” your present thoughts and memories are vibrating at (“high-level happy” or “low-level miserable”), they’ll attract thoughts and memories of similar information.
The result: When you’re happy, a stream of positive thoughts ensues. When you’re sad it’s a stream of negative thoughts.
The good news: Over time, negative brain resonances eventually simmer back down to their normal, daily, even-keeled mid-level set zones. When they do, that’s when the feeling of “rebounding” kicks in.
So if lately you’ve been worried that you’re never going to feel like your “normal happy self” again, don’t. You’re biologically wired to return to your normal “mid-level” happiness zone. And studies have even shown that you can wind up bouncing back to an even higher happier zone – because after bad stuff happens you wind up appreciating all your good stuff even more.
Professor Richard Lucas, at Michigan State University, researched the effects of bad and good times on “mood permanence.” He focused on a wide range of people: from folks who won huge amounts of money to those who experienced debilitating injuries. His research showed all people initially reacted strongly to the good or bad in their lives. However, eventually nearly everyone returned to their former general happiness level.
More good news: His studies showed that post-distressing times, many people actually reported rebounding to a higher-than-usual good mood. He attributes this bounce-back-higher effect to people appreciating the good in their life after suffering the bad.
The result: Your renewed focus on appreciating all the good things in your life retrieves even more simmering positive thought memories . . . and upward your mood does go!
Bounce Back Assignment: Create a Gratitude Journal. Write down: Who do you love? What do you love? What do you love to do? Psychologists find that people who keep weekly gratitude journals end up feeling happier, more energetic, and more optimistic than those who don’t. So write down those people, things, and experiences that bring you joy, and keep your brain resonating at a happy temperature. (Note: I sell beautiful Gratitude Journals in my shop!)