Did you know that our brains are wired to highlight threats and danger over beauty and goodness for survival?  Gratitude helps neutralize this negativity bias and allows us to see the small delights that are sprinkled throughout our day. Create a good list by documenting the positive things that happen daily and train your brain to rewire towards happiness.  If you’re ready to see things through a positivity bias, then this snackable episode is for you!

here’s a glance at this episode:

  • [2:28] Understand negativity bias, the phenomenon of cognition that’s part of our brain’s natural wiring to protect us by highlighting danger and threats and diminishing the good and positive. 
  • [5:01] Learn what a good list is and create one by documenting the little micro, beautiful, good things that happen every day which trains our brains to look for the good and rewire toward happiness. 
  • [6:52] Breakdown the good list by the 5 senses:
    • [8:25] Sight
    • [9:29] Touch
    • [10:50] Taste
    • [12:30] Sound
    • [13:38] Smell
  • [14:35] Review the Pause, Pay Attention Framework: the more you practice paying attention to these small delights, the easier the practice will be. 

links mentioned in this episode

The Feel Good Effect Book

Sign up for Weekly E-mails from The Good List 

The Secret to Becoming More Resilient with Dr. Rick Hanson

Creating more Happiness, Calm & Confidence with Dr. Rick Hanson

read the transcript

Robyn Conley Downs: (00:01)

You’re listening to The Feel Good Effect. You need a good list and I’m gonna tell you why. And then I’ll tell you how to do it. Let’s make it happen.

Robyn Conley Downs: (00:13)

Radically simple and ridiculously doable. The Feel Good Effect will help you redefine wellness on your terms. Hi, I’m your host Robyn Conley Downs. And I believe that wellness isn’t about achieving another set of impossible standards, but instead finding what works for you, drawing from cutting-edge science on mindfulness habit and behavior change. This podcast offers a collection of small mindset shifts that allow for more calm, clarity, and joy in everyday life and you to embrace the idea that gentle is the new perfect. I invite you to listen in. As we cut through the clutter and find the small shifts that create huge changes in your life. Less striving, more ease. It’s time to feel good.

Robyn Conley Downs: (01:02)

Well, Hey, Feel Good fam. I am so glad you’re here. We’re talking about the good list today. Why you need one and how to do it. If you have been around for a little while, you know that I actually have an email called the good list that I send to our community every week. This is different than what I’m talking about today, but I thought it would only be natural to do a little plug for that. So I send the good list out every single week as part of the overall brand here, www.realfoodwholelife.com, and then the podcast and all of the other free resources that we offer. So if you wanna get on the good list, you can go to www.realfoodwholelife.com/subscribe. It is one of the favorite things that our people love to receive. It’s like a little bit of goodness in your inbox each week. And it’s new recipes, new podcast episodes, any free resources that we create that you can’t find anywhere else. Also announcements when new things are coming. And it’s just the one place that we pour our energy into creating community totally free. So if you wanna get on our good list, go to www.realfoodwholelife.com/subscribe.

Robyn Conley Downs: (02:18)

Okay. I wanna tell you a little story about your brain and how it works. So our brain has this amazing capacity to protect us. And the way that it protects us is by looking for threats and harm and negative things. It’s called negativity bias. And it’s a well-researched phenomenon of cognition. I write about it in my book, The Feel Good Effect. And like I said, negativity bias is really part of our brain’s natural wiring to protect us. Think about it, in the past, the better we were at seeing threats, and danger, and harm, the more likely we would’ve been to stay alive. And so it’s like our brain could put a red light shining on anything that was dangerous or a threat or harmful. And because that red light shines so brightly on the negative and threats and the harm, it dimed the light on everything else. And so if we come into modern life, think about the effect that negativity bias has in your daily life. So instead of seeing everything equal, the good things and the bad things, your brain is giving more weight to the threat and the bad and the harm. And that’s not great. It definitely doesn’t contribute to feeling good and what’s more, it does not give you a true picture of reality.

Robyn Conley Downs: (03:48)

So I am not talking here about toxic positivity or good vibes only, or only positive thinking. We always hold space for all the emotions here for negative emotion, for positive emotions for good days, for bad days. I’m never telling you that you should only think positively or that that’s the goal because it’s absolutely not. But what I’m saying is that we know this from the research, if we’re so good at seeing threats in the harm and the negative that skews our experience of reality toward the negative. And we miss the beautiful, good, positive things that are happening right in front of us. If you want more of the science, on negativity bias from a researcher and psychologist, you can go back to several episodes. I would recommend that you check out there’s two interviews that we did with happiness researcher, Dr. Rick Hanson. And he talks a lot about this in both those episodes. And one of the easiest things that you can do the most research-based things that you do to rewire your brain toward happiness is a gratitude practice. And I also know that that’s really challenging for some people, and it just feels like another to do.

Robyn Conley Downs: (05:01)

So the good list is, is like using that research and, and all of that work around negativity bias to create what I like to call positivity bias, or just a reality bias, right? We’re not trying to only see the good, we’re just trying to see the actual good that is there, that we are not able to see right away. And I like to do that with something called the good list, naturally very on-brand, right? And the good list is a practice. It is something that you can actively do. You can get a piece of paper, you can get a note on your phone, but actively record it somewhere. You can use pictures. And actually this is an activity and a practice that I taught last year in 2021 in Allie Edwards, One Little Word, uh, community. So if you were part of that, you got to do the deep dive into this with me for a month, with all of the fun documenting and craft aspect of it.

Robyn Conley Downs: (05:58)

So even if you were in that community and you’ve gotten to do this before, I invite you to, to do it again and make it more of a daily practice. But if you weren’t there, I wanna make sure that you got this information as well. So the good list, or you could call it a delight list or happiness list, but it’s about recording and documenting the little micro, beautiful, good things that happen every day. The things that we don’t notice, because we’re really good at seeing the other things. And I, like I said, I recommend you get a piece of paper, journal, whatever, write it down. You can also do this through a photos, which is what we did with Allie Edwards group. I love doing it through photos, but it’s very much, are you more of like a writing person or a visual person that’s very much up to you and then you could keep it incredibly simple, which is just write down the good that you see during the day.

Robyn Conley Downs: (06:52)

And that’s it. End of podcast. But I do have a way, I think that I have put my own spin on it that I think helps people get a little more in there. And that is to divide if you have your paper or mentally, whatever is to do the good list, according to the senses. So sight, smell, taste, sound, and touch. So let me give you some examples of how this might look, basically, you’re looking for the good in each of the senses. And so you could do this, like over the course of a whole year, you could do this, look for all the senses every day. You could do a different sense each day, but it really just trains your brain to look for the good that’s all I’m looking for. That’s the outcome that we want because you actually rewire your brain toward happiness when you do these kinds of activities in these practices.

Robyn Conley Downs: (07:48)

So I don’t really care how you break it down, but I do know that looking for the good and creating a good list around the sense is a little more applied and helps people do this and meaningful way. And again, this is a practice that I have adopted and I do every single day. And it just becomes such a part of who you are eventually. Like it, it just, you see both, you see the negative, you’ll always see the negative, but then you see the good and the beautiful and the beauty and the miraculous at the same time. And it does become part of you. And don’t have to look so hard.

Robyn Conley Downs: (08:25)

So that’s the exciting thing about this, but if you start, let’s say you started with sight and you’re just gonna keep a good list throughout the week or throughout the month, or just through the day. And what is good that you see? What is good, that, that is beautiful? What is good that you see that makes you feel good? And just write it down. You know, like the light coming through my water glass this morning was so beautiful and that, but on my good list, seeing Elle my daughter coming home from school and the dog wagging his tail to see her come in the door, that’s on my good list. I always do a little afternoon, noon tea, little ritual, kind of self-care situation. And I love watching the way the water pours into my glass teapot. And then I use loose leaf tea. So it unfurls, and that’s on my good list. And that’s how you do it. It’s very simple. Also doesn’t cost any money or take a lot of time. So if you start with sight, that’s what I would do.

Robyn Conley Downs: (09:29)

And you can do just sight through many weeks or one day, or however you wanna do it. And then you can, could add in touch. And I have, I’m a very tactile person. So I have like all these things that are on my good list for touch. Um, my fuzzy, I have a barefoot dreams blanket on my couch and I it’s a splurge. And it was one of those things where I was like, that’s ridiculous. I’m not that lot of money for a blanket. And then I, I think I got it for myself for my birthday. And then I said, okay, that was for me, totally worth it. Because every time I touch it and I feel it it’s so good to me and it’s on my good list and it’s on my good list every single day. And my space heater is on my good list. It’s winter, or right now as I’m recording this and my fuzzy slippers are on my good list. I do a one-minute snuggle with Elle before, uh, she gets ready. So she eats breakfast and then she still asks for a one-minute snuggle, cause we’re kind of rushed in the morning. And just that, you know, that feeling of snuggling is on my good list. So those are mine. I have many more. Once you start, you just start to see them all over and your life becomes so much more rich and you really do rewire for happiness. When you have good list.

Robyn Conley Downs: (10:50)

Taste, I could go on and on, you know, you could do it throughout the day or some of your favorite taste. But that one is just the simple pleasures of the taste of I’ve been doing lemon water in the morning. I know that’s like very influencery morning routinely kind of thing to do, but I just love it and not to mention the taste of coffee. So good. We have been to have excellent, excellent water are here in Oregon. So the taste of Oregon water, the taste of my Dad makes the best, best margaritas. So Dave’s homemade margaritas. If you know, you know, if you are a friend in real life, you know, so I feel like taste is an easy one and you can pay attention through the day, uh, or through the week and just collect all the beautiful things, the tastes so good that are good and that add goodness to your life, oh, I’m gonna, I’m gonna have a snack later. And I just got these olive oil, potato chips, good list. They’re from Trader Joe’s – nothing special, but also totally special. I just read a quote from a book I’m reading and she described something as commonly uncommon. And I think that the good list is those commonly uncommon things like olive oil potato chips that just are good and they are joy and they are a delight. And when you can really recognize them and just not tune them out because their brain wants to, it really opens up a lot of things and helps your brain rewire toward that happiness.

Robyn Conley Downs: (12:30)

Okay. Sound and smell. So sound. This sound of Elle saying, “mama”, she still calls me mama sometimes. She’s 10. It’s probably a few years to go until she never calls me that again. But it’s the most beautiful sound to me. I love it so much. And I try to recognize it and notice it and soak it in. And, and when I write it down, it helps me do that. If you’ve been following me for a while, you know, I have all these different playlists that I organized by time of day, cuz that’s just who I am. And I have a morning, a mid-morning, and afternoon and evening playlist. So music is something I have on all day. I listen, I think I was, I can’t remember how many hours of Spotify listened to last year, but it was many, many, many, so maybe there’s music that you love, maybe there’s podcasts that you love. Maybe it’s the voice of a loved one, the sound of nature when I’m in the forest of the trees. And sometimes if I’m just rushing, I miss those things. So it’s pausing and paying attention, I’m noticing and then writing it down on your list.

Robyn Conley Downs: (13:38)

And I think the last one is smell. I hope I didn’t miss one. Somebody I’m sure will let me know. Anytime I make a mistake, people let me know. So I think we haven’t done taste yet. Some of you know that I am the slow cooker queen. And if you go to www.realfoodwholelife.com you’ll find like many hundreds of slow cooker recipes. And so to me, the smell of something cooking in the slow cooker is so lovely and nourishing and cozy and homey. And I love it. And so that’s on my good list. I’m definitely a essential oils, um, for the aroma kind of thing. I’m not into essential oils beyond that, but I do enjoy them for the smell. And because Andrew can’t have any other kind of fragrance, he’s very allergic to many, many things, but certain essential oils I can do. So I love a vanilla and I love an orange and I love a couple others. And so having those and smelling them and putting that on the good list.

Robyn Conley Downs: (14:35)

So that is it. That’s how you make a good list. You do not have to break it down by senses if you don’t want. I have found in teaching this for many years and with our certified Feel Good Effect Coaches, which I don’t talk about enough. We will be talking about that more here in the coming months because we’ll be opening up registration for our next round of coaches. Very, very excited about that. Um, but we teach our, our Feel Good Effect Coaches how to coach on this. They even find them at www.thefeelgoodeffect.com. You can find a coach, you can get on the waiting list for the next program, but it’s powerful. It’s effective. And it’s so it’s a fairly easy practice to adopt. So you can have a good list that you just keep running in a journal or a planner or on your phone, or you can break it down by the senses jf you find that to be a little more like an easy way in, like I said, when I coach on it, I find that is the case. And the more that you practice pausing and paying attention, which is another framework I teach and is in my book, The Feel Good Effect, pause, pay attention. The more you practice that the easier this gets. And the more that you start to notice, all the good and the beauty of these small things, these little delights, these little joys that are all around you. And if you’re missing them, I mean, if you’re making the good lists, the good lists is the good lists and you notice you don’t have any good in a category. And that’s something that matters to you. Like if some, if smell is important to you and you don’t have anything in that category, like how could you be adding that into your day? Or if taste is important to you and you’re going through a whole day and you’re having no nothing good, no good taste, nothing on the good list. Maybe you could focus there. So it’s also a way to kind of notice it’s a strength-based thing. It’s about noticing the good, but it Al also can just give you a little bit of feedback about your life in general.

Robyn Conley Downs: (16:29)

This is a life-changing practice, and I’m so happy be to be able to share it with you. If you appreciate these free resources that we pour so much time and energy into, the best way to give back and show your appreciation is a five-star podcast review. Also five-star reviews and ratings on recipes and the book are really appreciated and they are the number one way that you can show your appreciation for everything that we put out here at Real Food Whole Life and The Feel Good Effect.

Robyn Conley Downs: (16:57)

One of my favorite things last year in Allie Edwards’ One Little Word was seeing people engage with the good list and they were doing it through more of a documenting and crafting lens, which was so incredible to see people do the good list through travel journals and their through photography and journaling and crafting. And I just, it was incredible to see what other people’s lists look like. And it helped me to get better at my list. So in the spirit of community, if you create a good list, whether it’s just written down or through any other modality, I would love to see it. We can connect @realfoodwholelife on Instagram, and you can find all the resources from today’s episode and all the rest on www.realfoodwholelife.com/fge. As always, I wanna thank you for being part of this Feel Good movement, and for giving time for yourself today. Until next time, here’s to feeling good.

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