Our brains are wired for certain responses. When you see something, your brain immediately begins to assess if that thing or person is familiar, and what your next steps are. When you see, smell or even think about delicious food, mouth starts salivating (wait, is your mouth already salivating at that thought?). You are running through Glacier National Park and see a bear; you pull out your bear mace. Our brains are always processing all of the information being received by all of our senses and prescribing responses for us, many times without us even noticing.
I was recently reading The Coaching Habit, and in one section, they talk about research that showed that your brain is only 2% of your body weight, but consumes 20% of your energy. Mind blown. No wonder those times when your brain just can't turn off, when you spend hours thinking about something-- a challenge, something thrilling, etc-- you feel drained of energy. One fifth of all you had to give that day was dedicated to that one stream of thought.
And yet, the brain is one of our most powerful muscles. Research has shown that brains can be trained and rewired to think and behave differently. Martin Seligman is one such researcher who founded an entire field called "positive psychology." He showed that equally as much can be learned from studying and helping humans focus on the good things as from the traditional field of psychology which is deficit-based. One of the most powerful (and SIMPLE!) exercises he created is called "Three Good Things."
At the end of each day, write down three good things that happened and why they went well. The simple act of doing this immediately changes our focus toward the good and seeing how we played a part in that. After just a small period of consistently doing this, people typically find that they start to see the good in every day, not just at the end when they are reflecting. Seligman says that people also sleep better right after doing this.
So here's your challenge: change where that brain energy is going to. For the next week, do three good things each night. How are you seeing your world and yourself differently after one week? How does that allow you to show up?