Do you ever feel like you aren’t as happy as you should be? Whether it’s a big, tough debilitating depression or simply an everyday sadness or just wondering why you’re not feeling as happy as you should be.
I know I’ve been there.
I remember one day, a few years ago, as I was entering my home, I caught a glimpse of myself in the hallway mirror. My jaw dropped. Who was this woman? Her uncombed hair was piled on top of her head. A ratty sweater peeked out from beneath a red coat. She definitely didn’t have a bra on, and her yoga pants didn’t quite make it down to the wool socks piled at her ankles; leaving an inch of skin exposed to the January weather. Winter boots, hastily tied and an 18 month old on her hip completed the ensemble.
But it was her tired, lifeless eyes that hit me the hardest. She was not happy.
That day I realized I was tired, overwhelmed and frankly just muddling through the everyday monotony of life. It was a soul-searching, life-changing moment.
I wanted to fix it. I wanted to be living and thriving, not just surviving and boy, I wanted to be happy.
This sent me down a three year hole of work and study on depression, positive psychology, grit, resilience, life lists, etc.
I could go on and on about everything I’ve learned, but for now, I want to share one thing you can do TODAY to create more happiness in your life. This idea comes from a guy nicknamed the “Father of Positive Psychology”, Dr. Martin E.P. Seligman. He has spent his entire career studying positive psychology and resilience. (If you’re interested, grab some of his books from the library. They’ll change your life).
Through all his research, Dr. Seligman has found one practice- one simple thing- that you can do everyday that will improve your depression and increase your happiness. It worked for everyone he studied. Even for those who were in such a deep depression they couldn’t see a way out.
It worked for me. It. Changed. My. Life.
The exercise is: What Went Well. At the end of everyday, you need to write down three things that went well that day. And this is the important part- WHY THEY WENT WELL.
- “My son took a much needed nap” WHY DID THIS HAPPEN? “Because I saw how grumpy he was and I made him rest”
- “My husband got a new job” WHY? “Because my husband has been networking and working really hard to find work.”
- “I spoke with someone new today” WHY DID THIS HAPPEN? “Because I put myself out there and tried.”
I began by putting a blank notebook on my bed. I divided it into two columns: “What went well” and “Why”. Every night before I went to bed, I wrote down three things. Then I left it out on my bedroom floor, so I didn’t forget the next night.
I felt happier AFTER JUST THE FIRST DAY.
Seriously. It was a palpable difference. I am now addicted to this practice. It allows me to focus on the good and relish in the positive. I won’t go into the science behind why this works for the sake of brevity, but I challenge you to try this. Now. Write down three good things that happened today and why they happened. (I’m a pen and paper kind of girl, but you could easily do this on your phone with an alarm to remind you.)
What do you have to lose? Let that happiness soak in. 🙂