We've all been there. Bad days. Waking up on the wrong side of the bed. Feeling helpless about something going on in your life.
I've had my share. Hell, I woke up today feeling overwhelmed about what to do next.
But one thing changed that...
Remembering what I'm grateful for.
It may sound cliche or simple, but it works.
If you write down 5 things you're grateful for, you'll be happier for the next 24 hours. If you do it for 30 days straight, you'll be happier for the next 6 months. The second part to this habit is spending 5 minutes writing about something good that happened to you in the past 24 hours.
When I say happier, I don't mean you'll be in a state of bliss all the time. I mean your baseline will go up. Your lows and your highs will be just a tad bit higher.
Our emotions are a bit of a rollercoaster ride. By turning this into a habit, you'll have your emotional state more in your control.
So how does it work?
You're training your mind to re-focus on what you appreciate in life. Your mind looks for more things you appreciate, and over time you'll notice a profound difference in how you think.
Where you focus determines what grows.
When you journal about something good that happened, mirror neurons in your brain activate. It's like you're having the experience all over again. The same good feelings double up and make you happier. You remember the experience longer by translating it into words and specifying what was special about it.
So how do you turn this into a daily habit?
Follow these steps:
- Get something to write on. This could be a journal, a Google doc, or a word document on your computer. Use something you'll have easy access to.
- Set a time and place to do the exercise. In bed when you wake up in the morning? At home when you come back from school or work? First thing in the office?
- Set a bare-minimum amount. Writing 5 things you're grateful for and journaling for 3 minutes is a good place to start. It should be so easy that you'd do it even on your worst days (that's when you need it most).
- Set up a reward. A small piece of chocolate, a tick-mark off a calendar or to-do list, or just 5 minutes to sit and relax. By having a reward ready, you're helping yourself build this into a regular habit.
- Remove potential barriers. Spend a few minutes thinking about what could get in your way. If you forget to do it during your designated time, do you have a back up time to do it? Do you have easy access to your journal or word doc when you need it? Is the reward good enough to get you to follow through?
It's important to focus on building a habit rather than doing this a few times. If you follow the 5 steps, you should be well on your way to making it a habit. By doing it every day you're guaranteeing a happier life for yourself.
For a short video on the benefits of happiness (including living longer and being more effective), click here.
Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know how I can help.