Here’s something I do regularly that really quickly improves my mood — within a few days: take a moment each evening to make a note of “three good things” for the day. Things that went well. Positive things. Even in the shittiest times, you can find three things to look at positively.
I started doing it after reading The How of Happiness. One of the intentional activities that has been shown to make people happier is practicing optimism. Some time before, I head read Learned Optimism, which really changed the way I viewed the inner workings of my psyche. I had not realized that optimism was something you could train yourself into. And reasonably easily.
Making note of three good things during the day past is a way of tuning your brain into a “positive” mode. Positive attracts positive, negative attracts negative (that’s one thing I learned over a decade ago reading Emotional Intelligence: why it may make sense in certain gloomy times to just go watch a funny movie and laugh to “switch gears”).
You know when you start to spiral downwards, making a mental list of all the things that are going wrong today/in your life/this year? Well, you can do the same thing to go upwards. And all it may take is a few mindful minutes of your time to shine the light on good things.
I use Path for this. I love Path, though I’m connected to precious few people on it — scratch that, because I’m connected to few people. A dozen, maybe fifteen at the most. My good things are kind of private, not really blog or facebook material. Path works really well for this. And I have two-three Path friends who have started doing “three good things” too — I love reading those postings.
I usually do “three good things” for a while, then forget or drop off the wagon, and if I start feeling down or discouraged, I remember to get started again. And as I said, within a few days I’ve usually perked up.
This is one of the things I love about growing older: knowing yourself so much better. Fifteen or twenty years ago it would have taken me months to crawl out of what is now a slight dip that lasts a few days, a week at the most.
Have you tried this? Do you do anything similar?