When a noisy thunderstorm begins to wake up every one of the Von Trapp children, they find themselves in need of some comfort. Naturally, they run to Maria’s room. The former Nun turned Nanny knows just what to do — she breaks out into song. (It is a musical, after all.)
Even people who haven’t experienced The Sound of Music on Broadway or the film version with Julie Andrews recognize the song, My Favorite Things. “Raindrops on roses, whiskers on kittens, bright cooper kettles, warm swollen mittens, brown paper packages tied up with strings. These are a few of my favorite things.” These are the things Maria remembers when she’s scared, hurting or sad. The habit of focusing on our favorite things in moments we find daunting has been scientifically proven to force a shift in our brains. It stimulates dopamine and serotonin which promote feelings of contentment.
The word favorite refers to the one you prefer before all others — your favorite memory, favorite character quality, favorite accomplishment, favorite dream, favorite challenge. When we shift our focus from the thing that scares us to the thing we prefer above all else, fear takes a back seat and our brains stop cowering to it.
When we focus our thoughts on good, we feel good and when we focus on bad, we feel bad. Our focus shapes how we perceive the world around us. We quite literally are training our brains to either see the glass half empty or half full.
A few of my favorite things:
The minute I turn on my favorite Motown playlist or John Meyer tune or Nat King Cole classic, my mind, body and spirit embrace joy and let go of whatever thunderstorm is outside the window.
There is nothing like a good laugh. Researchers believe that laughter reduces the stress hormone that suppresses the immune system. Also, when we laugh, cells that destroy toxins and viruses increase. I seek out fun, funny people, sitcoms, and quips because laughter is good medicine.
Daily, I take walks on the local nature trail, through the golf course, or at the park. Before I lived in DFW, I lived in the Texas Hill Country where a daily walk took me through the woods, along a creek and up a hill. New studies show that being in nature and even viewing scenes of nature, reduce anger, fear and stress. The experience of nature also reduces blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension and the production of stress hormones. Nature heals.
These are a few of my favorite things. What are yours?
Whatever they are, finding a way to incorporate them into your day and focusing on them when the storms roll in, will shift the way you experience the rain.