Jeremiah's wife had gone downhill. Her mind had started to slip over the years. And when he heard her say something about bringing the kids inside (they had already graduated and moved out), or talking about how she wished the war (WWII) was over, it depressed him.
But he stumbled upon a bit of wisdom one day when he clicked on one of the news articles his new high tech phone suggested to him. It said, "New scientific evidence for being able to control your happiness." He clicked on it and it showed how recalling happy things was as powerful to change your mood as observing sad things. It said that as far as the chemicals go, your brain doesn't know the difference between recalled memories, and things that are actually happening.
So that night as he crawled into bed and his wife asked if the kids were asleep already, instead of just getting sad, he tried something else. He took a breath, and mourned the situation for just one moment more. But then he made the decisions to recall 5 good things.
He turned to his wife and said, "He hunny, remember when Sofie learned to ride her bike? Remember how happy she was?" His wife smiled and said, "Oh yes, that was a wonderful day."
Jeremiah then remembered, "Oh yeah and you were the one to suggest she was ready to take the training wheels off! I didn't even think she was ready. You've always had that intuition about them. I admire that about you, Hunny."
After three of those his wife had fallen asleep but he told himself he'd do 5. So after talking through two more of them to himself, he settled down under the covers and noticed, I truly am feeling happy! And he also found that if he focused on things he loved about her, he saw her in that beautiful light again.
It worked so well, that he did it almost every night, and sometimes when it was needed during the day, for the rest of his life.
In Philippians Paul says to rejoice always. He says to let go of anxiety by thanking and trusting God and by focusing on good things. Whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy, focus on these things.
And a functional neurologist was the one who told me about this research. He said, the brain really doesn't know the difference between a thing and a simulated thing. I was skeptical but after trying this method of recalling good things, it really did seem to adjust my happiness too. But it takes work. It is a discipline.
So be purposeful to share the things you love with that person you want to love more, on a regular basis. That will keep you accountable, and involve them in your joy.
Raw Spoon, March 1, 2021