Let positive emotion in

Posted by Karen in Personal Development

It’s hard to think negatively when we delight or rejoice in something or someone.

Gladdening the heart – a crucial practice for a meaningful life

To gladden means: to brighten, cheer, delight, elate, hearten, warm, make happy.

When did you last pause and allow yourself to be truly open to a joyful moment – a moment that warmed your heart and brought a smile to your face?

When we let positive emotion fill our mind and body, we gladden our heart and become more open, awake and alive. It feels good!

On my long retreat this year, we often started our morning meditation with an invitation to ‘gladden our heart’. I loved this moment. Just hearing: “Let’s spend a moment gladdening our heart”, lifted my whole being and I could feel a broad smile sweep across my face. In that moment I would often tune into the bird song we were imbued in, recall a beautiful view or sight on one of my solitary afternoon wanderings, relive an enjoyable conversation with one of my fellow retreatants, or a kind deed that someone did for me…

Gladdening our heart is different from gratitude, where we acknowledge and express thanks to someone or 

something. When we gladden our heart we allow our heart to be touched by beauty: the beauty of our surroundings, the beauty of a connecting moment with someone, the beauty in something we admire or value in a person – a partner, friend, child, colleague – even a stranger, the beauty of a single flower, the early morning, a smile …

Let positive emotion fill your mind and body

It’s hard to think negatively when we delight or rejoice in something or someone. When we practice gladdening the heart, we have an intention to focus on something positive (vs focusing on something on that is lacking), which in turn leads to a positive mental state.

Give it a try –the more we gladden the heart, the more open we become and the more we wake up to life. Life then gains richness and meaning.

“Our thoughts can change the structure of our brains. Everything you do creates connections within the network of your brain, and the more you repeat something, the stronger that connection gets. These connections control our reactions, emotions, behaviours, and our overall well-being. By learning to strengthen the positive connections, you can change your brain to be more positive.” Dr Rick Hanson PhD, Neuropsychologist

When we experience positive emotion more often, our wellbeing improves – I like to think of it as living from a ‘full tank’. Indeed, living from a full tank can completely transform how we experience life. This has certainly been the case for me. From an early age till my late 30s I experienced regular waves of sadness and despondency which felt like a real struggle and deeply negative. Through a mindfulness practice and bringing focus to the positive things in life, how I experience life has completely changed over ten years, it’s so much more equanimous, positive, resourceful, kind, joyous.

We can practice gladdening our heart wherever we are. The most difficult thing is to remember to pause and to spend a moment letting ourselves be touched by and filled with beauty, joy, warmth, delight… It’s always there, right there. We just need to lift the veil, see it, and let it in.

If you need help gladdening your heart, don’t hesitate to contact me for an initial free coaching conversation while walking in Victoria Park, east London.

With warm wishes,


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