Studies in the field of Positive Psychology have shown that the simple act of making a list in the morning of things you’re grateful for can make you a happier and more positive person. No matter how bad your situation may be, your life still contains elements of wonder and beauty. Just looking out my window, I can be thankful for the blue sky (I’m a bit colorblind, so that’s my best guess), my neighbors (even my Rush Limbaugh loving neighbor), the squirrels chasing each other up and down the trees… There are an infinite number of things we can be grateful for in our lives. We just need to recognize them.
The practice recommended by Martin Seligman — the father of modern Positive Psychology — is to start your day off with a list of five things you’re grateful for. I’ll go ahead and do that here.
In no particular order of gratitude…
- My wife – it’s good to have someone to love
- Our dog – she’s a big source of joy in our lives
- Our house – there’s no place like home
- YouTube videos – it’s great to be able to watch concerts of the bands I loved as a kid but never got to see
- The music jams – I love playing music with other people
Before you go to bed at night, make another list of things that happened during the day that you’re grateful for. It could be your 30 minute workout, a good conversation you had with someone, playing with the dog, going for a walk and appreciating nature, a meditation session, attending a group activity, maybe participating in a sport or game… There are all sorts of things that can serve as a source for gratitude, and if you acknowledge them when you’re ready to go to sleep, it can make it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep. You might also have more pleasant dreams. If there’s something bothering me when I go to sleep, my dreams are often bizarre and disturbing, and I’ll wake up in the middle of the night covered in sweat.
During the day, make a concerted effort to do things you can be grateful for. We make our own happiness. You can’t rely on someone else to make you happy.