One of my favorite mindfulness teachers says the brain is Teflon for the positive and Velcro for the negative. This default mode enables us to respond to danger and survive to live another day. Our brains are wired to make us pay attention to what’s wrong so we can stay safe. But focusing on what’s wrong doesn’t make us happy. For that, we need a different approach.

We try a lot of things to feel satisfied. We try pleasure. We try achievement. We try to get the material things we want. But we work against an inherent negativity bias that constantly points out what is “wrong” in ourselves or our lives and strategies like getting what we want only make us happy for a little while. Psychologists call this the hedonic treadmill. Something goes your way, you feel good for a time, but then the good feeling goes away. You have to run constantly to keep the happiness going, and often, you can’t even get what you want in the first place. Researchers have studied people who win the lottery and found that after a relatively short burst of happiness, people who cash in the winning ticket return to whatever level of happiness they had before they won.

As a human being, I am a big fan of pleasure. I like stuff and I like feeling accomplished. But we also need to cultivate qualities in ourselves that set us up for a more enduring, deeply rooted satisfaction. We need a space in our lives to honor our deepest aspirations. We need a greenhouse, a place that’s designed to protect, nurture, and feed our sense of contentment. Mentoring focuses on protecting our well-being with mindfulness, nurturing ourselves and our dreams with self-compassion, and feeding ourselves with the joy and vitality that comes from aligning our lives with our values. It’s a place to realize your potential, a greenhouse for your happiness.