How To Be Happy: Create a Happier Future with a Perfectly Positive Diary
One of the most important writing techniques for boosting happiness revolves around the psychology of gratitude. Present an individual with a constant sound, image, or smell, and something very peculiar happens. The person slowly gets more and more used to it, and eventually it vanishes from their awareness. For example, if you walk into a room that smells of freshly baked bread, you quickly detect the rather pleasant aroma. However, stay in the room for a few minutes, and the smell will seem to disappear. In fact, the only way to reawaken it is to walk out of the room and come back in again.
Exactly the same concept applies to many areas of our lives, including happiness. Everyone has something to be happy about. Perhaps they have a loving partner, good health, great kids, a satisfying job, close friends, interesting hobbies, caring parents, a roof over their heads, clean water to drink, a signed Billy Joel album, or enough food to eat. As time passes, however, they get used to what they have and, just like the smell of fresh bread, these wonderful assets vanish from their consciousness.
As the old cliché goes, you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.
To help you incorporate effective writing techniques into your life, I have put together a rather unusual diary. Instead of keeping a record of the past, this diary encourages you to write about topics that will help create a happier future. The diary should be completed on five days of the week, with each entry taking just a few moments. Maintain the diary for one week. According to scientific studies, you should quickly notice the difference in mood and happiness, changes that may persist for months. If you feel the effects wearing off, simply repeat the exercise.
There are many things in your life for which to be grateful. These might include having close friends, being in a wonderful relationship, benefiting from sacrifices that others have made for you, being part of a supportive family, and enjoying good health, a nice home, or enough food on the table. Alternatively, you might have a job that you love, have happy memories of the past, or recently have had a nice experience, such as savoring an especially lovely cup of coffee, enjoying the smile of a stranger, having your dog welcome you home, eating a great meal, or stopping to smell the flowers. Think back over the past week and list three of these things.
Tuesday: Terrific Times
Think about one of the most wonderful experiences in your life. Perhaps a moment when you felt suddenly contented, were in love, listened to an amazing piece of music, saw an incredible performance, or had a great time with friends. Choose just one experience and imagine yourself back in that moment in time. Remember how you felt and what was going on around you. Now spend a few moments writing a description of that experience and how you felt. Do not worry about your spelling, punctuation, or grammar. Instead, simply commit your thoughts to paper.
Wednesday: Future Fantastic
Spend a few moments writing about your life in the future. Imagine that everything has gone really well. Be realistic, but imagine that you have worked hard and achieved all of your aims and ambitions. Imagine that you have become the person that you really want to be, and that your personal and professional life feels like a dream come true. All of this may not help you achieve your goals, but it will help you feel good and put a smile on your face.
Thursday: Dear . . .
Think about someone in your life who is very important to you. It might be your partner, a close friend, or a family member. Imagine that you have only one opportunity to tell this person how important they are to you. Write a short letter to this person, describing how much you care for them and the impact that they have had on your life.
Friday: Reviewing the Situation
Think back over the past seven days and make a note of three things that went really well for you. The events might be fairly trivial, such as finding a parking space, or more important, such as being offered a new job or opportunity. Jot down a sentence about why you think each event turned out so well.
– by Richard Wiseman
Excerpted from 59 Seconds Copyright © 2009 by Richard Wiseman. Excerpted by permission of Random House Canada, a division of Random House of Canada Limited. All Rights Reserved.’