I'm greatly interested in the science of Positive Psychology because it provides evidence-based lessons for increasing our well-being, which is one of the things I'm most passionate about. While there are so many different tools and techniques, two of the most effective and simplest ones to adopt are positive affirmations and a practice of gratitude. By focusing mindfully on what's good, and being grateful for all the good things in our life (even the most mundane ones) we can actually increase our happiness and sense of well-being.
No, not exactly like the ones the Saturday Night Character 'Stuart Smalley' practiced, although watching him might cheer you up. I think the child in the below YouTube video has it right. She makes me giggle every time! Go Jessica!
Five Gratitudes in Five Minutes Exercise
I like this simple exercise, suggested by Dr. Martin Seligman in his book Authentic Happiness. Anyone can increase their happiness and success by practicing this very easy technique - including kids. Here's what you do:
- Place a pad of paper and a pen or pencil next to your bed.
- Before going to sleep each night, for the next two weeks, think back over the previous 24 hours and write down up to five 'gratitudes', or things for which you feel grateful. These don't need to be profound and symbolic (though those are fine too). They can be as simple as "great dinner", "being alive", or "the sunshine through the kitchen window this morning."
- Repeat nightly for 14 nights.
- At the end of two weeks, evaluate how you feel about this exercise and generally about your life. I bet you will feel happier, more positive, and more focused on what's good. You might even find that you want to incorporate this practice into your nightly routine.
What you'll probably find when you do this exercise is that by thinking about your gratitudes each night, it will shift your daytime focus to seek out things to be grateful for. By mentally preparing for the nightly exercise (subconsciously or consciously), you will become more cognizant of things you are grateful for and more grateful for things that happen to you that might not have been cast in the light of gratitude prior to this exercise. It makes you look for what's good in your life, and thus happier about the life you have and what makes you happy. Try it and let me know what you thought!