Doing This One Thing Can Improve Your Happiness
Picture this: everyone comes in from school and work, you’re all sitting at the dinner table or in the living room, winding down and chatting. What do you talk about?
The first thing we hear are complaints about the day; how the teacher didn’t do art like she promised, how work was stressful, lunches were short or traffic was terrible on the way home.
We look for comfort from our loved ones and use it as a way to vent about the day, to clear out.
What if instead of allowing the complaints to flow in, everyone made an effort to list three positive things about their day?
Joyce Bono and Theresa Glomb conducted research about how positive events and positive reflection could impact someone’s wellbeing in work for the Harvard Business Review. People who participated in the study had to log in at the end of the day and complete a survey.
The survey asked them to spend 5 to 10 minutes writing about things, big or small, personal or related to work, that had gone well that day. They noticed that over time as participants did this exercise, that physical and mental complaints began to decline.
In particular, on days they noted good things, they were able to switch off better at home in the evening.
Can we apply this at home? Surely if recounting the good from your day at work takes the load off, talking to family can have just as big an impact.
If everyone listed three good things that happened to them that day, you might even find that it was because of another family member. This could have an even better positive effect on a household.
Everyone has to rant from time to time.
It can even have a positive effect when we feel understood and listened too, but negative thinking can turn into a bad habit.
Complaining about situations and people too much can have a negative impact on yourself and the people around you, through dampening the mood or when complaints about a certain person reach them!
If we repeatedly encourage gratefulness and positive thinking to our homes, it can also become habit. It’s a great example and an exercise for kids. It can also have a knock-on effect, making us talk more about positive experiences with anyone we interact with.
My own mum used to do this with us. We would sigh and refuse, just wanting to give out about school or mountains of homework. She would sit us down and wouldn’t let us watch TV until we said at least three positive things about our day.
While it seemed like a pain, it did genueinely lighten mine and my sister’s mood. And gave us a chance to suck up and say thanks for dinner.
It can improve your relationship too; instead of complaining for that precious hour you have alone after bedtime, say three positive things to create a nice relaxing atmosphere. We also know that we sleep better when we're less worried and stressed.
Try it out, there’s always something to be thankful for.
Written by Róise McGagh, Intern at Family Friendly HQ; follow her on Twitter @roisemcgagh