Sometimes an idea just keeps presenting itself to me until I have to pay attention. In this case, the idea is noticing and recording things that make me happy.
First, I read about something called the “What-Went-Well Exercise” (also called “Three Blessings”), in Martin Seligman’s book, Flourish. He writes, “Every night for the next week, set aside ten minutes before you go to sleep. Write down three things that went well today and why they went well. You may use a journal or your computer to write about the events, but it is important that you have a physical record of what you wrote. The three things need not be earthshaking in importance…but they can be important.” (Seligman also encourages recording why the event happened, but I find that more problematic—many of my happy events, like “I rode Tank today” or even “I finished everything on my to-do list today,” don’t seem to have a “why” beyond “I just did it.” Maybe I’m missing something?)
Next, I heard about the 100 Happy Days Challenge. Every day submit a picture of what made you happy to a social media site such as Instagram, Facebook or Twitter, with the public hashtag #100HappyDays. If you don’t want to do this publicly, you can come up with your own hashtag that you share only with those you want to see your photos, or you can send your photos to myhappyday(at)100happydays.com. (Of course, you don’t need to share your photos with anyone, but it helps keep you on track and “honest” if you do.)
According to the challenge organizers, “People successfully completing the challenge claimed to:
- Start noticing what makes them happy every day;
- Be in a better mood every day;
- Start receiving more compliments from other people;
- Realize how lucky they are to have the life they have;
- Become more optimistic;
- Fall in love during the challenge.”
Doesn’t that sound great? For more information, or to sign up for the challenge, click here.
My third exposure to this idea came from Dani Dipirro at Positively Present: The Jar of Happy Things. During all of 2013, she wrote down favorite moments on bright scraps of paper, storing them in a jar (she had so many she had to buy a second jar!). I love the visual of the jar filling up with happy moments, and the idea of being able to read through a year’s worth of them all at once. Her post, titled “Five Benefits of Noting Happy Moments,” is worth a read.
Why do any of these things? My reasons include, first, awareness in the present moment of all that is good and happy in my life. I have the habit of allowing myself to worry about what is not going right—or what bad things might happen in the future—instead of appreciating the good things (and there are plenty of them) right now.
Second, actually recording happy moments should help me remember them in the future if and when bad things happen.
Third, what you focus on expands. My hope is that by focusing on the happy moments, I will have more of them!
I’ve been doing the “What Went Right” exercise most nights since I first read about it, and I’m quite tempted to join the #100HappyDays Challenge—I love the idea of a photographic record of happiness! What about you? How do you keep track of the happy moments in your life?