Getting High on NVC
Carol Ann Fried and Geoff Swannell
March 25, 2014
The purpose of this evening was to focus on positive emotions and needs through providing positive experiences for participants, and to then use NVC to “install” these experiences in our brain.
Geoff led a guided meditation at the beginning of the evening, taken from Rick Hanson's book "Hardwiring Happiness." (This is not our “Man In Motion” Rick Hansen.) It focused on the fact that we are feeling all right right now.
He also summarized key points from that book – especially that human brains are like Velcro for negative experiences (experiences associated with negative emotions) and like Teflon for positive experiences (experiences associated with positive emotions). Hanson claims that our brains have a "negativity bias" which hyper-focuses our attention on negative experiences, and glosses over positive ones, even though they happen many times each day.
Hanson claims it's not enough just to have positive experiences, or to only use "positive thinking" to improve our mood. Positive experiences need to be "installed" in our brains to build and rebuild neural structure. Absorbing and savouring these experiences, feelings and needs is the beginning of this “installation”. These “new” neural pathways then become resources required for both being more positive and dealing with negative experiences.
Carol Ann led a series of fun, interactive activities designed to engage and energize participants. The first was to simply have fun and warm up our bodies and laugh muscles (123), the second to bring up positive experiences (Happy Talk), the third focused on what’s good right now (What’s Good? and Stage Names) and the 4th was about appreciating others (Imaginary Balloons) in the room. 3 of the above 4 activities required movement and mingling.
Next, participants were asked to pick one of the above activities that they really liked and to use NVC to notice the emotions and needs associated with that experience. Then they wrote these on flipcharts, so everyone could share their experiences. (See charts below.) Kid’s stickers were used to highlight times when more than one participant shared the same feeling or need.
The evening ended with a second meditation, providing an integration of the positive experiences, feelings and needs of the evening. Folks left with hugs and smiles.