"Appreciation is a wonderful thing: It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well"
POSITIVE EMOTIONS BROADEN AWARENESS
I don't pretend to know everything about Positive Psychology research, but this lady has done a lot of work and here she is explaining some research that shows experiencing positive emotions broadens awareness, improves problem-solving and performance.
This video unfortunately is not a How-To guide but at least speaks to why we should invest time in connecting with positive emotions that we already have within us.
WE HAVE A NATURAL TENDENCE TO EXPERIENCE LOSS MORE THAN GAIN
This TED talk explains what we might already know about how I minds work: that criticism. negative self-talk and loss in our life sticks to our mind more than praise, positivity and gains.
Knowing this, we might make more effort to focus on the good things we have thought, felt and done, the good things that others have thought, felt and done, the good things that we have received from ourselves, others and the universe.
Studies have shown that keeping a gratitude diary is associated with:
Increased positive affect(mood), reduced envy and improve wellbeing and life satisfaction (McCullough, Emmons, and Tsang 2002).
Less depression and anxiety symptoms and this may be mediated by improved relationships with others but also connected to a less critical, less punishing and more compassionate relationship with the self (Petrocchi and Couyoumdjian 2016).
Greater patience and improved self-control (Dickens and DeSteno 2016).
Less body dissatisfaction (Homan, Sedlak, and Boyd 2014)
Fewer symptoms of physical illness, increased hours of exercise and an increased likelihood of having offered emotional support to others (Emmons and McCullough 2003).
So you may wish to each day write down 3 things that you are grateful for or went right and why it went right. But even if you don't keep a gratitude diary, can you reflect on moments where you felt grateful for some act of kindness whether this be an act of speech (someone said something nice to you), behaviour (someone did something from which you benefited), or mind (you felt someone was wishing you well)?
It doesn't have to be something big that you appreciate. It can just be a feeling of welcome in a place or amongst friends, having the door held open for you, or someone letting you in traffic when you drive, or the feeling of receiving an unexpected gift, having a good cup of coffee or your favourite piece of fruit.
Do you notice the relative peace in your neighbourhood, the light of the moon and the sun, the parts of your body that are working well (often without us noticing and even when illness is present)?
And you might want to acknowledge times when you have acted in kindness to yourself and others. Often on any particularly day, you have done more than 5 things that you can feel good about - but you can increase that good feeling by reflecting on it. You can reflect on the good things you have done, are already doing now and things you intend to do.
Dickens, Leah, and David DeSteno. 2016. “The Grateful Are Patient: Heightened Daily Gratitude Is Associated With Attenuated Temporal Discounting.” Emotion 16(4): 421–25.
Emmons, Robert A., and Michael E. McCullough. 2003. “Counting Blessings Versus Burdens: An Experimental Investigation of Gratitude and Subjective Well-Being in Daily Life.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 84(2): 377–89.
Homan, Kristin, Brittany Sedlak, and Elizabeth Boyd. 2014. “Gratitude Buffers the Adverse Effect of Viewing the Thin Ideal on Body Dissatisfaction.” Body Image 11: 245–350.
McCullough, Michael E., Robert A. Emmons, and Jo Ann Tsang. 2002. “The Grateful Disposition: A Conceptual and Empirical Topography.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 82(1): 112–27.
Petrocchi, Nicola, and Alessandro Couyoumdjian. 2016. “The Impact of Gratitude on Depression and Anxiety: The Mediating Role of Criticizing, Attacking, and Reassuring the Self.” Self and Identity 15(2): 191–205.