STRESS! My mind is racing. I can’t concentrate. I have too much to do and not enough time.
Stop. Take a deep breath.
Earlier this week, I went to Mark Shishim’s office, The Wellness Guy. “Mark, give me a wellness idea to write about,” I ask. “Simple,” he tells me, “Three good things.”
“Three good things” is an intervention that increases happiness and decreases depression symptoms for up to six months. Every night for a week, write down three things that went well today and why each happened. They don’t have to be major things. For example:
1) I cooked yakisoba for dinner, which makes me feel connected to my Japanese culture, tastes amazing and has plenty of fresh vegetables. It happened because I bought the food at the farmer’s market and Nikka last weekend, and I had the help of my partner cutting up the veggies while I stir-fried.
2) I played Old Maid with my daughter, which makes me feel like a good dad. It happened because she asked me to play a game with her. I stopped what I was doing (surfing the web) and said, “yes.”
3) It rained on my dirty car and now it looks much cleaner. It happened because Mother Nature made it rain.
Martin Seligman, a University of Pennsylvania psychologist, studied five different happiness interventions. The most effective for increasing happiness over time was “three good things.” The team followed up with the “three good things” people a month, three months and six months after the study — each time they were happier and less depressed than before the study. Some people continued to write down “three good things” every day, even after the week trial. Those people were the happiest.
Why not give it a try? It takes minutes a day to list three things that went well and what caused them. Do that for a week and you have the potential to be happier for six months. If you were in Vegas, you’d take that bet, right?
It is more than just feeling good. Happy people are healthier, more successful and more socially engaged. People who are more socially engaged, successful and healthier tend to be happier. It is a positive cycle that you want to get into.
Stress is a normal part of every day life. Stress peaks and withdraws like the waves of the ocean. However, we naturally tend to notice the negative more readily than what makes us happy. Make a small effort to recognize what is good in your life. Bring more balance to your thoughts and emotions by giving more weight to all the good things that happen each and every day.
This Sunday, check out “De-Stress Recess” in Anisq’Oyo Park from 12:30 – 4:00 p.m. There will be free food, live bands, free yoga, a bounce house, Henna skin painting and twenty campus organizations to help you de-stress, get involved in something meaningful and savor life’s experiences.