Home / Resources / Self-care Tip: Have you tried the mental subtraction of positive events?

Self-care Tip: Have you tried the mental subtraction of positive events?


It may seem that we have all had an exercise in gratitude imposed on us over the past few months. Whether it’s thoughts of being grateful for still being able to put food on the table during lockdown or uttering the words, “I’m never going to take visiting a café with a friend for granted ever again”, we’ve probably all realised that the small things we took for granted at the start of the year should actually have featured highly on our gratitude lists.

But we perhaps haven’t gone beyond those initial thoughts as, in current times, it is especially easy for our disappointments and fears to occupy more of our attention.  And yet gratitude is known to be an important tool in our self-care armoury which, when practiced regularly, can help us lead a more joyful life with better connection to others.

An exercise called the Mental Subtraction of Positive Events on the Greater Good in Action website is a short, valuable practice in which you consider the ways that an important, positive event in your life may not have taken place and then reflect on what your life would be like had it not happened.

It is considered a valuable practice as, rather than just taking these events for granted, it lets us see how easily they may never have occurred and leads us to be appreciative of what they mean to us and the contribution they make to our overall wellbeing.  Poignantly, during these current times, that seems like a welcome addition to our self-care routines.

You can find instructions for trying the exercise here and can practice a similar exercise reflecting on the relationships in your life by following this link.


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