Did you know that the time before bed is notorious for piquing our anxiety? That’s when you think about things you should have said during the day, when you start wondering about logistics, a big presentation for tomorrow, or if your kid is coming down with the flu.
Therapists know it’s a notorious time for anxiety. Plus, if you’re sleeping with your smartphone, or watching media at the end of the night, you could be piling on more fuel to the fire. So, let’s flip that switch. Instead of stressing about life, or watching media, try this practice – Three Good Things.
Review your day, from the moment you woke up until now, and think of something good that happened. Did you have lunch with an old friend? Did you stick to your new diet? Did you get a coffee for someone, just because?
Now, take a few minutes to really think about one of those good things. Let’s say it was a coworker that bought you a coffee. When they gave you the coffee, what did they say? What did you say? How did you feel? Did you give them a hug? How did you feel for the next 10-15 minutes as you sipped the coffee? Did you think about paying it forward to someone else tomorrow?
By taking 3 to 5 minutes to sit in the moment, to relive it, your brain is able to experience the same happiness you felt at that moment. If you imagine yourself back in the situation (the more details the better), you literally re-live it in your brain.
Now repeat. You’ll find that thinking of a second good thing is even easier than the first – you’ve primed the pump. Continue to flesh out your memory, asking yourself detailed questions about how you felt and putting yourself back in the moment.
Repeat one last time, for a total of 3 memories. Try to spend at least 5 minutes on each memory to maximize your brain’s ability to return to the scene of the sublime.
Aside from the straight-up joy you’ll be feeling, the good news is that this exercise, if completed every day for a week, has been proven to increase happiness immediately, as well as one week, one month, three months and six months later, according to a 2015 study at the University of Pennsylvania.
Practice this with a partner, as a way to recall and share the very best moments of your day. It can help bring couples and famlies closer together. This simple act of bringing presence to what’s good makes life meaningful and better in many wonderful ways.
Peace and Love, Jim