Take in the Good
One of our favourite lessons in Take a Break: Photography for Self-care is Lesson 4, Take in The Good.
Our students agreed and some have shared that the concept of intentionally looking for The Good — and using their cameras to do so — has remained with them long after they completed the course.
- Does your Facebook feed depress you?
- Are you avoiding watching the news these days?
- Are your friends talking politics more now, and with more despair, than they ever have?
Perhaps a refresher on Negativity Bias and the need to counter it is in order.
According to Studies done by John Cacioppo, Ph. D, now at the University of Chicago, there is a surge of electrical energy in our brains when we encounter negative stimuli, much more so than when we interact with something positive. We are, it seems, hard-wired to notice what is negative in both our own lives and what unfolds around us. Psychologists believe this is an automatic process that keeps us alert to harm even when we are not in harm’s way.
Left unchecked, however, this negative tendency can feed depression, anxiety, overall pessimism, and hand us a lens through which to view the world that is not completely accurate.
Our brains are like Velcro for the bad and Teflon for the good. This negativity bias impacts us as individuals and our relationships, particularly our couple relationships. Check out the resource section below for more on Negativity Bias and how to counter it.
That said, as photographers we DO NOT have to drown in bad news.
We CAN consciously move the figurative needle on our positive/negative sensor toward the positive simply by picking up our cameras and heading out the door. Photographers can go for a drive or attend events simply because those activities make us feel good and give us a reason to take more photos.
Or, as we also taught our Take a Break students, if heading out isn’t feasible, there’s the option to be more aware of what is good just outside our own front doors. One of our students adds to a Facebook album called Good Things as each year progresses. By the end of the year, she has a visual diary of happiness prompts!
Our students are encouraged to keep a journal as they work through the Take a Break assignments. For this lesson they reflect on their favourite colours, seasons, places, and the memories attached to those — all with the intention, in this lesson, of identifying what is good in their lives.
In dreary seasons, like February and March in our part of the world, energizing colour can be hard to find — but not impossible! Take yourself on a photowalk with a colour theme and share a collection of what you find (and why you went looking). Some of the good may well be in the comments you get!
Photography blossoms when it’s shared.
Postscript: The initial draft of this blog post was written when the Negativity Bias was dominating my day. For the final draft, revised after a wonderful weekend shooting wildly colourful Pow-wow photos, I was back to Take in the Good. Check out the album here on my Facebook page.
References for Take in the Good
Books by Rick Hanson
- Buddha’s Brain (Rick Hanson, PhD., 2009)
- Just One Thing: Developing a Buddha Brain One Simple Practice at a Time (Rick Hanson, PhD., 2011)
- Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence (Rick Hanson, PhD., 2013)
Free newsletter at RickHanson.net
By Ruth Bergen Braun
In my day job, I’m a professional counsellor in Lethbridge, Alberta. (See my professional website here ruthbergenbraun.com) I work with clients who have a variety of life struggles — depression, anxiety, relationship issues, bereavement, trauma, and past and/or current abuse.
I have loved photography since my darkroom days as a teenager — long before we ever imagined the fun of digital photography. I joke that I’m so old that I took my first photography course B.C. — before computers. I have taken and enjoyed Marlene’s courses, both the Ruzuku format and Marlene’s content. I often recommend her website and online courses to people who want to learn more about both the art and technology of digital photography. I also have recommended her courses as “a gift to yourself” and thus, the idea for our course on using photography as self-care was born.
Follow my photography journey on my Facebook page.
Ruth’s blog posts:
- Take in the Good
- Photography as a gift
- Ruth’s first hybrid portrait
- 365: One photo per day for one year
- Pondering Imperfection
Ruth and Marlene co-teach Take a Break: Photography for Self-Care