Jump Start Jan: Happiness Boosters Day 4
Day 4 of our cheap and cheerful Happiness Boosters week is about increasing our happiness by focusing on gratitude. This mostly involves changing our perspective to actively consider all the little, positive things in our lives.
Early humans survived by looking for threats of danger, and thinking about what we lacked. Modern life is very different, and while there’s definitely a place for risk assessment and troubleshooting, our brains haven’t evolved very much since we were running away from snarling predators or wondering whether those red berries were poisonous or not…
Simply put, we can suffer from an excess of negative thoughts just because of the way most of us are wired up. One way to balance it out is by regularly taking a moment to be grateful for the good things in our lives, and focusing on the positive things that have happened during each day.
This involves creating a habit, and regularly choosing to think about the good things, and remembering happy moments rather than letting them pass by barely noticed.
When I say happy moments, that doesn’t mean feeling 100% joyful, or exploding with happiness. Moments like that come and go, and are often linked to major events – well, we don’t have major events on a daily basis, and that’s okay.
Happy moments are often tiny, fleeting things. We might see something beautiful, funny or inspiring as we go about our daily lives. We might be grateful for a smile from a friend, a compliment from a partner, or be pleased with ourselves for completing a task. We might be reminded that we’re lucky to have good health, or certain skills or personal qualities as we go about our day.
Whatever your happy moments are, try to start noticing them. This might feel a little unusual or weird to begin with, but it gets easier the more you work on it. If it’s your first time doing this, try for five or ten things that you’ve noticed about your day that made you feel grateful or cheery, even if was only something small.
For example, today you might be grateful for:
- A break in the clouds
- Hanging out with a friend
- Finishing something on your to-do list
- A hug from your other half
- Mastering a new piece of software
- Feeling better after getting over a cold
- Petting your cat or dog
- Enjoying a book, some music or a film
- Inventing a new recipe
- Drinking a good cup of coffee
- …and so on
It gets easier the more you practice, so give it a go.
To get into the habit, many people like to keep a gratitude journal which they update at the end of every day. This becomes a record of all your daily observations that you can refer back to if you feel like it.
Most people keep their gratitude journal in a notebook, and you can buy some very attractive gratitude journals on Etsy UK at the moment, nicely timed for people who are creating new for the New Year.
Alternatively, there are all kinds of gratitude apps to try. The best known one is Gratitude Journal by Happy Tapper, which costs £2.29, but there are various free ones, including Gratitude Journal 365, Grid Diary, and Notes To Self – Gratitude. There’s something to suit most tastes, from games to prompted lists, and some of them have the option of social sharing if you feel like spreading the word.
What are you feeling grateful for today?