Happiness – No Near Miss

Do we only see the good when it is threatened to be taken away?

By request, I have started posting my five positive things on Facebook again. It is a lot of fun sharing the positives. There is SO much for which to be grateful. An interesting phenomenon has occurred when I express gratitude for the things that do NOT happen. For instance, when I write “I am glad I did not get into a car accident today” I am frequently met with, “Did you have a near miss?” The answer is “no”. I did not have a near miss. Isn’t it an interesting reaction though? Must we have a near miss to appreciate what we have? Most of the time this is exactly what we (human beings) do. We take for granted the blessings all around us – not because we are an ungrateful by nature. It is due to a trick our brains play on us called Hedonic Adaptation (Sonja Lyubomirksky, The How of Happiness) also known as the Hedonic Treadmill (Barbara Fredrickson, Positivity). It’s just a fancy way of saying “We get used to it”. There is a remedy for Hedonic Adaptation: Gratitude. Just by taking a few minutes each day to stop and think about the many things we have to be grateful for can help us to appreciate them without the “benefit” of a near miss. Writing down five positives per day has proven (Martin Seligman, Emmons and McCoullough) to reverse the course of a downward spiral. If you are a bit rusty on counting your positives, I offer eight different ways to do so in the article Building Your Positive Muscles. There you will learn new ways to appreciate what you’ve got BEFORE it’s gone.

Frank Clayton
Licensed Professional Counselor

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