Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and it’s the time of year when we think about what we are grateful for. This week for Be BETTER, we are going to do something a little different. Instead of tracking the things we are thankful for, we are going to track the things that bring us happiness. Is there a difference? Yes and no. Tracking things that make us happy opens up deeper insights into the things we are thankful for. During the course of the next two weeks, record every time that you feel happy. For example, this morning I was driving to work and my favorite James Taylor song was playing on the radio. Instantly, I felt happy because of the memories the song brought back about childhood summers spent at the lake. Therefore, I would write it down: Listening to James Taylor (November 13, 2013).
OK, so what is the difference between being thankful and being happy? Logging things that bring you happiness helps you identify the things you are grateful for. If someone had asked me today, “What are you grateful for?” I probably would have thought about my husband and my health … not a James Taylor song that made me think of sunny days and lake water. Tracking happiness throughout my day helps me recognize in greater detail the things I am grateful for. I am not only thankful for James Taylor, I am thankful for my childhood friends, that my family moved to Oregon when I was 12 and that I was able to spend summers on a lake.
Tracking happiness not only allows you to recognize gratitude, it helps you identify things, experiences and/or moments that bring happiness into your life. Therefore, when you are feeling unhappy, you can bring happiness into your life. During times of depression and sadness, sometimes one moment of happiness experienced during the day can carry you on to the next. Open your eyes to those small moments. Once you can identify them, try to surround yourself with those happiness triggers more often.
Some really cool iPhone apps allow you to track your happiness -- or you can just write those moments in a notebook.