When I made my New Year’s resolution, I decided to do something small – something that I could commit to doing for an entire year. Like most of us, I wanted to do something that would make me happier. I decided to skip my usual resolution of running 5k consistently throughout the year. In fact, I believe that one is more likely to be fulfilled without a formal New Year’s resolution (which only seems to add on guilt and pressure when things don’t go as planned). This year I decided to keep a daily journal of things for which I am thankful.
The credit for this idea goes to Tal Ben-Shahar who gave a very interesting lecture at our university some time last year about the science of happiness. There were a number of points he made that have stuck with me, but this idea has probably had the most influence on my life up to now. Every night before I go to bed I write down five things for which I am thankful. Some entries show up time and time again, like the following:
- the time I get to spend with Adam
- the support of my family
- for my health
- for a productive day at work
I’m incredibly thankful for those “big things”, without a doubt, but sometimes it’s the little things that make me the happiest. Maybe it’s that some of these little things are more transient, so I appreciate them all the more when they happen – things like
- a sunny day
- a good night’s sleep
- dinner with close friends
- Adam lending me his raincoat when I forgot mine
Taking the time to write these thoughts down has helped me appreciate how truly lucky I am. Granted, it’s not always easy. Some days I just feel like being grumpy about something, but I force myself to acknowledge that there are always at least five things that are good in my life. I don’t feel better right away, but it does help me let things go and move on with my life the next morning. It’s hard to be down when there are so many things to be happy about.
So far my New Year’s resolution is helping me be a happier person – something I think we all strive towards.
It may be February, but it’s not too late to give it a try for yourself – what are you thankful for today?