There’s no such thing as being happy all the time. And since our brains are wired with a negativity bias — a tendency to focus on what’s wrong and missing — many of us have to work hard to find and notice the good. So how can we counteract this bias and bring more positivity into our daily lives?
By building practices to prioritize the good, positive and happy moments on a consistent basis.
Positive emotions are micromoments of joy, happiness, gratitude, love and connection. They’re said to be the tiny engines of flourishing, and they flood our brains with dopamine and serotonin, making us feel better and helping us build our intellectual, physical and social resources.
The goal isn’t to build a perfect life, but rather an optimal one — one that includes meaning and pleasure. And as you’ll discover, you have the power to make the choices every day that prioritize the positive in your life. Here are a couple of practices to help get you started.
Positivity Booster Exercise
The accompanying video (above) includes an exercise explaining how to create a “positivity booster” list — a list of activities that you love to do and that make you happy — along with an explanation of how and why it helps raise your level of positive emotions.
The Best-Moment-of-Your-Day Practice
This is a daily practice in which you simply ask yourself, “What was the best moment of my day?” Maybe it was the first sip of piping hot coffee you had in the morning, the hug you got from your child, a new connection you made, or a meeting that provided a victory. It’s also a great conversation starter at the dinner table and something you can ask anyone at the end of the day.
If you do this practice on a consistent basis, you’ll begin to notice several things:
- Every single day has a best moment, even the saddest and most challenging days.
- As you search for the best moments, you’ll discover other positive moments you may have otherwise taken for granted.
- Your neurochemistry will change as you begin to form a new habit of looking for the positive moments, and it will elevate your sense of appreciation and optimism.
Caren Osten is a certified positive psychology coach and writer. She works with individuals and groups who seek to cultivate greater positivity, clarity and calm as they navigate life’s daily stresses, challenges and shifts. Osten leads workshops and speaks publicly, sharing the benefits, practices and science of optimism, self-compassion, mindfulness and resilience. A contributor to The New York Times, PsychologyToday.com, Mindful and other publications and websites, Osten writes about health, well-being, travel and education. Learn more about her work at www.carenosten.com and find her @carenosten on Twitter and Instagram.