Wednesday, April 09, 2008


Dr. Martin Seligman, father of the positive psychology movement and author of more than a dozen books (including Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life), says that "happiness-building exercises" can increase contentment because they can change a person's memory and perception of the past. To boost your own happiness factor, consider these three thanks-giving techniques:

Exercise One


Try this every night, either in written form or as a mental exercise. Ask yourself what three things happened in your day for which you feel blessed, thankful and grateful. Then (this part is crucial) ask yourself what you did to make each good thing happen. Do this faithfully, and you’ll discover a shift in the way you go through your day, as well as the things that you choose to notice and amplify. When lying in bed at night if unfinished business pulls at your thoughts, ask yourself, “When was I at my best today?” or "What three things went right today and what did I do to make those good things happen?"

Results: Often people are unaware of their own role in good fortune. For example, someone cannot make a beautiful sunset, but they can choose to take it in (or not). This exercise is so simple it may feel a bit silly to many. However, what we find is that when people do the exercise, they are LESS depressed and much happier one month later, three months later and six months later. Dr. Seligman adds, "I now find myself during the day looking for things I can think about before I go to sleep. So I go around processing the day for things that will be fun to call up to mind at 11 p.m. It seems to change memory, attention and the way you go through the day."

Exercise Two


Set aside a block of time-an hour, a half-day or a full day, to indulge in your favorite activities. Block that time on your calendar and do not let anything interfere. Next, carry out the activities just as you had planned. Savor each activity by deliberately concentrating on each moment and being thankful for it, by taking mental pictures or collecting physical souvenirs, by focusing on sharpening your perceptions and by attaining complete absorption in the activity, then sharing those moments later with others.

Results: This exercise is a pleasure/mindfulness experience that can help people who have acclimated to success and good fortune and no longer feel as happy as their life circumstances would seem to merit. It is also a useful balance for those work-driven individuals who move quickly from success to success without stopping to notice or absorb their lives. Dr. Seligman explains, "Savoring refers to our awareness of pleasure and our deliberate attempt to make it last and to make it more intense. This exercise is about taking time out to appreciate and indulge yourself in the things in life which give you pleasure. This is a fun and important step to achieving happiness."

Exercise Three


Pass along the happiness ... think about the various aspects of life beyond yourself that would be thankful or benefit from the gift of your time and talents. Develop a plan for intentionally using one or more of your strengths in the service of this institution, group of people or idea.

Results: Meaning is defined as 'being attached to something that you believe is larger than yourself' ... like groups of underprivileged people, or ideals that you believe are worth fighting for. While it might be powerful to analyze service which you are already engaged in, the point of this exercise is to go beyond that to the intentional creation and execution of a new plan of strengths-based service.

Best Regards,


Wangbu said...

Hello! I am a reader from the Philippines. Your blog is definitely one of the most interesting I have seen. I am happy to visit it.

Janice Thomson said...

I like the idea of the first exercise - especially for older people too who can keep their mind active and enjoy life to the fullest. Great ideas Samrina.

Anonymous said...

Heyy Nice post yaar sry was not able to comment on previous post.
Liked ur post verrrrrry much.

Anonymous said...

I have added u on my blog roll

samrina said...

Hi Wangbu,

Welcome and deep thanks for your sweet comment :)

God bless you!


Hi Janice,

Yeah these are great ideas for people of any age group.. :)

Take care


Hi Ananya,

Glad to see you back dear :)

Thanks for adding me to your buddies list :)

Take care

Stacey said...

Hi Samrina,
What good practice, to focus on the good things our day brings us and not just the negative, good post Samrina!

trinitystar said...

Great exercises ... lets all express LOVE TO ALL ... without any judgement nor separation. That will also make one feel good.

hugs for you

EXSENO said...

I believe this has got to be one of my favorite posts. To often we forget to just stop and think about some of these things. I think I'd like to read this book.

samrina said...

Hi Stacey,

Yeah very true... thanks for coming by dear :)

Take care


Hi Trinitystar,

Agreed.. let us all spread message of Love n Peace all over the world leaving behind all the differences n all boundaries..

God bless you!

samrina said...

Hi Exseno,

Yeah you should go for the book.. glad you liked the post :)

Its a pleasure to see you around dear:)

Take care