During my junior year of college, I took a class called the Sociology of Happiness. It was one of the best classes I ever took, and one of the few that has stuck with me over the years. We studied what it takes for people to be happy, and how you can make your life happier on a basic level. Even though it was technically a sociology class, we mostly focused on the research of Dr. Martin Seligman, the Director of the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania and the founder of positive psychology, “a branch of psychology which focuses on the empirical study of such things as positive emotions, strengths-based character, and healthy institutions.”
The reason why I’m bringing this up is because the last couple weeks have been pretty rough for me, mostly with things getting kind of crazy at work. I also know some of my fellow Honesty Time pals are going through some trials and tribulations of their own. So I was thinking about what I can do to get myself and my friends out of this slump we have seemed to find ourselves in, and that’s when I remembered the projects that we did in my Sociology of Happiness class. Every week, we would tackle a task proposed by either Dr. Seligman or another happiness expert and apply it to our own lives. We engaged in physical activity, we wrote letters to people to tell them how much we cared about them, and we kept track of all the “blessings” in our lives, among many other things. We were trying to determine if these activities really improve our lives; if something as simple as taking the time out of your day to do nothing but listen to music or to do something kind for a friend could really impact your own personal happiness.
I’m not here to say that I have found the solution to living the ultimate life or anything. I took one class on the subject, and I didn’t continue to do any of the projects once the class was over. But just the simple fact that I actually remember so much now shows how much I really learned then. Thinking about this inspired me to try one of the projects again. I decided that maybe I’d be a little happier or more positive about my life right now if I took a little time every day to write down three things, no matter how big or small, that I was grateful for on that particular day. So, since Friday, that’s exactly what I have done. And, I have to admit, by focusing on the little things that make me grateful for who I am, where I live, and the people in my life, I am definitely feeling a bit more positive, both about the present and the future.
Here is my list from the past week of 3 things a day that made me just a little more grateful:
November 1, 2013
- Not hitting any traffic on my commute.
- Escaping the office in the middle of the day for lunch with coworkers who have become good friends.
- My coworkers and I receiving Amazon gift cards as well-deserved recognition for all our hard work last month.
November 2, 2013
- Wearing flip flops and no jacket on a rare warm day in November.
- Going out for ice cream with my best friend first, then getting lunch after.
- Having serious conversations about Harry Potter vs. Twilight at soccer practice.
November 3, 2013
- Being able to play soccer with my wonderful teammates, even when we lose.
- Getting an extra hour of sleep because of Daylight Savings Time.
- Acting totally ridiculous and silly in front of my boyfriend and having him still like me.
November 4, 2013
- Finding out about this: http://tv.yahoo.com/news/full-house-series-coming-television-163700032.html
- Kicking ass at fantasy football.
- Getting home from work to a surprise taco dinner, courtesy of my mom.
November 5, 2013
- My iPod somehow knowing that I was in the mood for the Beatles, even though I just put it on shuffle (consecutively playing “Hey Jude” by the Beatles, “Imagine” by John Lennon, “With a Little Help from My Friends” from Across the Universe, and “Be My Yoko Ono” by the Barenaked Ladies) .
- Having taco salad for lunch (you guys…I really like tacos).
- Coming home to have my new gray Toms waiting for me at the door.
November 6, 2013
- Realizing that in exactly two weeks I’ll be in Orlando, Florida with two of my best friends.
- Getting free champagne and dessert at the office.
- Watching Survivor every Wednesday night with my mom and dad.
November 7, 2013
- Listening to a Doug Loves Movies podcast on my commute that actually made me laugh out loud, which doesn’t happen that often when I’m by myself.
- Pandora suggesting some fun new music for me to listen to.
- Remembering that I still have a bag of leftover Halloween candy in my desk drawer.
Try it out. I know it seems lame, but it did make me feel better (even if most of the things I’m grateful for involve food). You don’t have to write it down, just make a mental note. Simply acknowledging the good things in your life reminds you that no matter how bad it may seem, there is always something positive in your life.