In his book “59 Seconds – Think A Little, Change A Lot”, psychologist Richard Wiseman summarises the latest research into what makes people happy, motivated, creative and successful in a broad range of other areas.
It’s an interesting book that takes a very scientific view and aims to bust the myths of pop psychology, while breaking down the true science into straightforward chunks that can be implemented by anyone.
His first chapter is about happiness. Based on a broad range of studies, Wiseman concludes that the most effective thing we can do to increase our happiness is journaling – and keeping the right kind of journal, with the right kind of focus. He summarises this in a 5 day journaling plan.
So we gave it a go at Fountain, with a 2 to 5 minute exercise every morning for a week. Around half of our team took part as a voluntary exercise – and it was a generally enjoyable experience!
Or course, we didn’t share any of our journaling with each other – the idea of doing it together was just to keep each other accountable about actually doing it. I personally often read these things and think they’d be great to do, but end up “not getting around to it”.
I paraphrased Wiseman’s titles from the book, and these were the five journaling exercises we completed over the course of a week.
Monday – Giving Thanks
There are many things in your life for which to be grateful. These might include having close friends, being in a great relationship, benefiting from sacrifices others have made for you, being part of a supportive family, enjoying good health, a nice home or enough food on the table. Or you may love your job, have happy memories of the past or recently had a nice experience such as savouring a lovely cup of coffee, enjoying the smile of a stranger, having your dog welcome you home, eating a great meal or stopping to smell the flowers.
Exercise: think back over the past week and list three of these things
Tuesday – Terrific Times
Think about one of the most wonderful experiences in your life. Perhaps a moment when you suddenly felt contented, were in love, listened to an amazing piece of music, saw an incredible performance, or had a great time with friends. Choose just one experience and imagine yourself back in that moment in time. Remember how you felt and what was going on around you. Now spend a few moments writing a description of that experience and how you felt. Do not worry about your spelling, punctuation or grammar – instead, simply commit your thoughts to paper.
Wednesday – Future Fantastic
Spend a few moments writing about your life in the future. Imagine that everything has gone really well. Be realistic, but imagine that you have worked hard and achieved all of your aims and ambitions. Imagine that you have become the personal that you really want to be, and that your personal and professional life feels like a dream come true.
Thursday – Dear….
Think about someone in your life who is very important to you. It might be a partner, a close friend or a family member. Imagine that this is your opportunity to tell this person how important they are to you.
Write a short letter to this person, describing how much you care for them and the impact that they have had on your life.
Friday – Reviewing the situation
Think back over the past seven days and make a note of three things that went really well for you. The events might be fairly trivial, such as finding a parking space, or more important, such as achieving an important professional goal. Jot down a sentence about why you think each event turned out so well.