SELF CARE: 3 Good Things
I've had ample time with myself these past seven date-less months. I've thought, read, listened, watched, created, and thought some more. And as if adjusting to a dating hiatus wasn't enough, I decided to do my mental state a solid by topping it off with weaning myself off anti-depressants because I LOVE fun. You can never have too much of it, really. And let me tell you — these past two months have been SO MUCH FUN and not at ALL a struggle mentally. A true cake walk, if you will. Except where the cake is actually stale white bread and the icing is a heavy-handed dose of mayo, and the waiter forgot forks so you're forced to eat mayo cake with your bare hands.
Like I said — so. much. fun.
Throughout this white bread mayo walk, I've found myself thinking a lot about happiness, mindfulness, being in the moment. It's a conundrum as old as time that the human brain naturally skews toward the negative, always. For example, here's what a good day looks like in your head:
You: Wow! Today was actually a really good day.
Brain: Remember that one moment though that almost ruined the day?
You: Oh yeah. That. Man, FUCK that. Why'd you have to remind me?
Brain: It's just what I do.
You: Well, great. Now today SUCKED.
On the flip, here's what a bad day looks like:
You: Today was the absolute worst, and I'm so glad it's over.
Brain: But remember those few small things that happened where you actually smiled and laughed?
You: So? Those were moments. As a whole, the day blew chunks.
Brain: What if you focused on those few good moments instead?
You: What if you SHUT THE FUCK UP?
Training our minds to put positivity first goes against most humans' innate way of thinking and being. It's an incredibly difficult muscle to exercise when we're naturally prone to be worrying about this, that, or the other at any given time. We meet positive people and are immediately weary of their motives. "What's she up to?" or perhaps the more popular query: "What's she on?" As a society, we feel we don't have TIME to relish in the good, happy moments. We find them much more fleeting than the ugly reality of the everyday grind and stressors that we choose to let consume our every day lives.
Enter a new podcast I'm loving: The Science Of Happiness. Produced on UC Berkley's campus by the Greater Good Science Center, the podcast is run by actual scientists who invite guests to try one "happiness" method and report back their findings. It's brand new and the episodes are shorter than a pubic hair, but sometimes a pubic hair of wisdom is really all you need.
The very first episode experiments with a strategy called "Three Good Things." Because we tend to take the joy in our lives for granted, the challenge is, at the end of every day, no matter if you'd naturally categorize that day as good, bad, or somewhere in-between, to sit down and write out (yes, with a pen and on paper) three good things that happened that day. It could be as big as a raise or as microscopic as a 2-min conversation you had with a barista that put a smile on your face. The idea is to thoughtfully replay your day, keeping a keen eye out for those three little moments that deserve some of the attention that you're doling out like candy to all the bad, stress-inducing stuff. And not just to jot them down as bullet points either, no. To write them out and sit with each good thing for a minute or more, giving your psyche time to envelop, appreciate, and remember the good things that happened. Here's my entry from yesterday (Monday):
As you can tell, I WASN'T WORKING WITH MUCH, guys. Because, in all honesty, yesterday wasn't that great of a day. It was Monday. I had a really lonely weekend being sick and incapacitated. I'm PMSing and feeling extremely anxious. And nothing very good happened yesterday, but a few pretty good things did and those are what I wrote down (see: grapes). But that's the whole thing with this strategy — some days, you're going to have to sit long and think hard to try and conjure up even one good thing that happened that day, and it might be really hard to do. But if you sit with it long enough, there will be at least one, if not two. And hey, if you're really working at it, maybe even three.
Check out the Science of Happiness podcast on iTunes and leave a comment if you have a sneaky little happiness trick you swear by!