There has been a lot published recently about the damage ‘selfies’ are causing, not to mention many people’s addiction to portraying a perfect life on social media. It seems that image is king and perfection, both visually and within our lifestyles, is what we should strive for. However, for a long time now it has become clear that this current fascination with perfection isn’t causing longer-term happiness, in fact quite the opposite.
Perhaps the time has come to remove the stigma which has resulted in being less than perfect, maybe less than average, and embrace who we actually are, being happy and grateful for that.
So, our latest tip is a reminder of a quick but valuable exercise in gratitude. Devised and explained in his book ‘Flourish’ by Martin Seligman, the man commonly known as the founder of positive psychology, it focuses our brain on what went well rather than our default of what didn’t.
Research has found that you can train your brain to become more positive, re-wiring it to work more optimistically. After carrying out this exercise for just 21 days, the brain starts to maintain a pattern of looking for the positive rather than the negative in your thoughts and experiences, leading to greater happiness and satisfaction.
It’s believed that thinking about why something went well is often related to actions you chose to take to make it a positive experience and re-living it in this way, teaches your brain that your behaviour matters. The exercise also silences our brain to think about one thing which is a different activity from the multi-tasking we’ve come to constantly demand of it.
Try the Exercise
At the end of each day for 21 days, although if it becomes a daily habit even better, write down 3 new things that have gone well and why they went well.
Our tip – people are often put off doing the exercise because they think they should start after an especially eventful day which may be exactly why they should seize this day to start acknowledging what happened that they are grateful for.
The 3 things don’t need to be life-changing such as –
- The sound of a giggle in my house this morning. Why? My son was laughing at something and the sound of this made me feel happy and stop what I was doing momentarily to listen.
- My lunchtime walk. Why? Noticing the colours in the trees are changing – although it means colder weather is coming the vibrant colours remind me of the positives of different seasons.
- The cup of tea I made this afternoon. Why? It was a nice break from work, I like the comfort of wrapping my hands around the warm cup and enjoy the memories it re-kindles of my Gran making a pot of tea.
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