Some time in December of 2010 I was reading a magazine article about happiness and how to find more happiness in your life. It was a laundry list of little things to do to maximize your happiness.
One of the tips stood out for me and I decided to make it one of my 2011 New Year’s Resolutions. It was easy and I believed achievable. I liked the idea of maximizing my happiness. The task or challenge: Everyday before going to bed take a moment to reflect on the day and come up with 3 good things from that day. That’s it. Very simple. There were only a few rules to this resolution:
- Write down my 3 happy/good thoughts every night before bed
- The good or happy things did not need to be huge items or major accomplishments – simply something that made me smile or brightened my day or made my life better.
- It was OK to have more than 3 but 3 was the minimum requirement no matter how the day went.
In January 2011, I started this resolution and got off to a good start. I’ll admit some months I did better than others but I always came back to my resolution even after some time off. Here is a sampling of some of the happy things I wrote down this past year:
- Having lunch with a good friend
- Seeing Dolly Parton in my neighborhood
- Reconnecting with my Father
- Finding an hour to do Pilates
- Trying a new recipe – and succeeding!
- Seeing the first flowers blooming in my yard
- Getting closure on a bad relationship
- Farmer’s Market day in my neighborhood
- Wearing my skinny jeans and not feeling like a 10 lb sausage in 5 lb casing
- Not chipping my nail polish
- Running the trails faster than I had before
- Getting through another rough day at a job I hated without any tears
- Wearing new heels that made me 3 inches taller than my insecure, unscrupulous boss
- Standing up for myself
- Traveling to Europe and speaking French again
- Making new contacts for my new business
- Grilling out
- Picking up a new project
- Starbucks hot chocolate after a long rainy run
- Successfully avoiding karaoke
Some days the happy things were so easy and other days I really struggled to make my required three. I went through a rough time at my previous job this past year. There were days I had to dig deep to come up with anything good at all… let alone three good things. But I found when I made the effort, I went to bed happier, slept better, and woke up happier. This was a benefit I hadn’t even anticipated. The days I skipped (and yes, I’ll admit I didn’t succeed every day) I found I didn’t sleep as well and often stewed about the bad from that day instead. I also discovered on my bad days – I needed to keep the resolution the most. As I was trying to decide what to do about a bad job, it would have been easy to list all the cruel comments, injustices and back stabbing behavior. Focusing on the good instead actually gave me strength. It showed me no matter what was thrown my way, I could overcome it, and no one could take away my happiness. My list gave me power and the courage to make the changes I needed to make. And with those changes… came even more good, happy things.
I have enjoyed going back and looking at my list from time to time. It is fun to be reminded of the good times. My log became sort of a happiness timeline for 2011. I can also tell where I was struggling to come up with three good things (non-chipping nail polish???) but it also reminds me how far I have come. So for 2012 – I have resolutions about working out, eating healthy, etc. but I’m also keeping this resolution. And I expect there will be ups and downs this year as well, but I’m predicting more ups than downs!