Breathing in the Good
If we don’t feel happy, it’s tempting to look for things to fix: the job that isn’t prestigious enough, the apartment that’s too cramped, our partner’s annoying habit. But focusing on all the negatives is a guaranteed way to feel even worse. Instead, a simple way to start cultivating happiness is by recognizing the good - good old fashioned counting your blessings!
A pleasant moments calendar is a really good way of doing this. At the end of each day, just spend 5 minutes to remember and jot down 3 pleasant moments you can remember from that day. For example, you might recall a heartfelt thank you from a co-worker, a quiet moment drinking tea, or a child’s infectious laughter. When you notice these moments, breathe them in and mindfully notice the sensations in your body during the pleasant moment. You can do the same when you recall the pleasant moment as you write it down later in the day. As your awareness improves you might even notice your day being full of pleasant moments- moments that previously went under the radar. The effect of this can be wonderful just on its own
In a 2005 study Martin Seligman (Seligman, Steen et al. 2005) invited participants to join in a Three Good Things exercise. After doing this for a week the participants reported feeling happier and less depressed than when they started. In fact, they maintained their happiness boost six months later, illustrating how impactful it can be to focus on the good things in life.
Seligman, M. E., T. A. Steen, N. Park and C. Peterson (2005). "Positive psychology progress: empirical validation of interventions." American psychologist 60(5): 410.