How to Look at the Positive Things in Life

December 31, 2013

It is easy to become bogged down in the day-to-day grind but I have two friends who make a determined effort to concentrate on the positive things in their lives. Linda has a big jar on the counter and every day, she jots down sweet or funny or surprising things her kids say and at the end of the year, she has a whole collection of terrific memories.

Liz, on the other hand, has twelve folders in her desk – one for each month – and she puts a note or picture or memento (ticket stubs, receipts, etc.) in the folder for every significant event that happens during the month. At the end of the year, she makes a calendar for her partner that shows the events of the same month from the prior year. She has been doing this for 18 years and has an amazing summary of their lives together.

Both of these projects do two important things:

  1. they bring attention to the happy things in their lives, which everyone is telling us is super important for mental and physical health (like this, for example, or this or this) and,
  2. they make it easier to filter through life events to pick out the highlights and ditch the rest. No one wants in inherit boxes full of unmarked (and unremarkable) photos. Pick out the good stuff and let the rest go.

Apparently I do not have the discipline to postpone the reward like Linda and Liz, and with the shadow of serious illness always a part of our lives, I like to (and need to) enjoy things TODAY so I started a hybrid version of their projects I’m calling the Happy Day Project.

Every morning a pop-up on my calendar reminds me to think of the happy things from the day before. I write them down or make sure I get a picture or draw a sketch or whatever will remind me of the event and drop it in a folder. There are not significant events that warrant inclusion in my end product every single day, but it is amazing how starting the day thinking of positive things and nice people or a beautiful sky or a clean house or “LOL moments” or whatever is good in my life, sets the mood for the day.

On the last day of the month, I make a collage of my collected items and hang it on the wall in the kitchen. It is not fancy and would probably make my scrap-booking friends faint in horror, but it’s fun to put together and is a constant reminder that no matter what is going on, you can find the happy stuff if you are looking for it.

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