Note: Today is the International Day Of Happiness!
CBT An Anxiety
I’m not sure what to call this exercise – it takes up all of chapter 5 in The Feeling Good Handbook. Perhaps I’ll just call it the Triple-Column Technique. It’s one of the core techniques to the book, and I won’t describe the entire thing here, because a) it’s long, and b) I don’t know if that would be a copyright violation. There’s a PDF that summarizes it on a counseling page.
In brief, I’m looking today for an upsetting event (and with three children, I can guarantee I’ll find one). Once I identify one and have a few minutes to sit down, I’ll figure out what emotions I felt, the negative thoughts I associated with the event, and the distortions in those thoughts. For example, when one of my children hits another, I’ve sometimes heard myself think “he’s such a bully,” which is a rather obvious example of “labeling,” one of the common cognitive distortions. I can then look for more realistic and positive thoughts.
This technique can feel a little awkward to apply at first, but when I’m not deep in depression, I’ve found it very helpful. If I am deep in depression, it’s a terrible idea for me; it’s just another name for rumination.
Today’s happiness quote comes from BrainyQuote:
“Happiness depends upon ourselves.”
Today’s TED talk is from Elizabeth Lesser: Say your truths and seek them in others.
Repeat and Recharge
I’ve been finding it surprisingly meaningful to reflect on social connections, so that’s the exercise that I chose to repeat today. Hmm… now that I think about it, I wonder why I find it surprising? I’ve considered myself an introvert for so long that, although I understand how important social connections are to me, that knowledge is still somewhat intellectual rather than instinctive.
To recharge this week, I was able to schedule time with a friend I haven’t seen for a while. The weather is beautiful, and we’ll meet up for a long talk and some dinner.
Today’s exercise comes from Rick Hanson’s book Hardwiring Happiness. It’s an excellent read, and one of the earliest books I found about positive psychology. The main exercise I took away from it is what I mean now by “hardwiring.” This is basically the act of pausing to notice a positive emotion; deliberately amplifying that emotion; and giving myself a short time to soak the emotion in. Usually the entire thing takes less than a minute. There’s certainly more to the book, and it’s worth reading if you haven’t.
Hanson also breaks positive emotions down into three categories – Safety, Satisfaction, and Connection – with seven emotions grouped under each. I actually keep this list on my wall to remind me of some of the things that I can choose to appreciate in any given moment.
I’ve tried to develop a general habit of hardwiring whichever positive emotions come up for me, which I sometimes remember to do, and sometimes don’t. For today’s exercise, I considered trying to focus in on a particular emotion, but then decided to just try to notice and hardwire whatever emotions I could. Perhaps next time I do this exercise, I’ll choose a specific emotion.
Today’s happiness quote is lifted from The Fresh Quotes:
“Be happy with what you have and are, be generous with both, and you won’t have to hunt for happiness.”
William E. Gladstone
Today’s TED talk is by Shawn Achor: The happy secret to better work.
Repeat and Recharge
I enjoyed yesterday’s Gratitude Journal exercise so much that I really wanted to do it again. This time I chose to focus on one of my children – the one I’ve had the most conflict with recently.
To recharge, I tried to set up something with a friend, but the timing didn’t work out. I flailed about a bit with ideas, but in the end I didn’t plan anything special. This recharging business is turning out to be harder than I’d thought. What I really want to do, nearly every time, is to take some time to myself to focus on my own projects… But I find myself struggling to make that request, since it impacts other people. Something to work on…
Pay Attention To Kindness
Today was a day to notice and appreciate kindness. This was made more challenging by the fact that I was under-slept (a happiness no-no, but sometime it seems unavoidable). There was still plenty of kindness going around – I just have the feeling that I missed some of it.
Some things I did notice:
- A friend giving her colleague a few minutes of extra time when he needed it.
- My son helping his little sister get syrup for her waffle.
- Me helping that same son clean up an accidental smoothie spill.
Today is another day for soaking up outdoor spaces. Last night I had the good intention of getting up extra early and taking a morning walk, but instead I stayed up extra late thanks to a combination of having guests and wrangling kids. So I plan to take a more urban walk around lunchtime today.
Initially I was disappointed – I’m not particularly fond of urban spaces – but I decided it will give me the opportunity to pay closer attention to the nature that is available, even in urban areas.
Three Good Things
Currently I’m planning roughly a three week rotation, with probably a little mixing up as I go along. This means that it’s time for the Three Good Things exercise again. In order to not need to repeat myself, explaining the exercise again every time it comes up, I’m creating a page for common exercises. If you haven’t done Three Good Things before, you can find a description of it here.
My three good things for today:
- Having dinner with new friends last night.
- Talking with my son about how waves work.
- The pleasant (though challenging) mind-expansion of reading something I don’t agree with.
Today’s happiness quote is lifted from The Positivity Blog:
“Life will bring you pain all by itself. Your responsibility is to create joy.”
Today’s TED talk is by Dan Gilbert: The surprising science of happiness.