Day 1 of 7 Fun Microtips to Grow Your Resilience With Ease.
As a career development and leadership coach with a background in applied positive psychology, I love to share tools with my clients that help them to build resilience. This week I will share with you a new micro habit each day of the week.
A micro habit is something that takes minimal energy or planning to complete. Most of the time, micro habits can be spontaneous, although, as the word habit implies, they are most effective if done habitually!
Why a micro habit?
Humans are naturally programmed with what is called a negativity bias. In the time of saber tooth tigers, this kept us safe, in a time of physical distancing, WFH, and too many people in a confined space (day after day) we need to be intentional about our happiness — or in this case — let’s call it positive affect.
A cynical habit response is all too easy to cultivate right now. At the same time, right now is a critical time for us to work on building our resilience and maintaining a positive attitude. I like to use the phrase “positive affect” over happiness, because sometimes, we may be grieving, we may be sick, we may be living in a time of crisis. We may not be “HAPPY,” and yet, even if we don’t feel like celebrating — we can cultivate a positive outlook.
And thinking positive is not only good for us personally, but it’s also good for our social circle, our community, and the planet.
Each day this week, I will share with you a micro tip to build a micro habit to keep you moving towards positive and hopeful thinking even in uncertain times.
MicroHabit Day 1: Practice Gratitude
For the last few years, Gratitude has been a hot topic, but in all this talk, many people have failed to make a distinction between expressing Gratitude and practicing Gratitude. We also often fail to distinguish between knowing what we ought to be grateful for and feeling that Gratitude in our bones. The Three Good Things Practice usually takes us to the “next level” so to say and leaves us not only feeling Gratitude but also improves our experience of ourselves.
Three Good Things:
Take a moment at the end of the day to reflect. You can do this by yourself lying down in bed or with a partner. You can say it out loud with your kids or privately in your own head. Do whatever works for you.
What to reflect on? Look back over the last 24-hours and take note of Three Good Things that you contributed to making happen.
This morning, I woke up and made a fresh pot of coffee that I then drank while watching the sunrise.
This morning, I helped my daughter to draw a picture of a unicorn.
This afternoon, I called my mom to get her recipe for the best banana bread ever. I then made the banana bread and ate it!
This afternoon, I got an email from a distressed employee, instead of responding in anger, I took a moment to consider her unique situation and instead wrote back: “I hear that you are having a hard time; how can we best support you right now? These are a couple of ideas that I’ve had…”
This evening after work, I checked on my elderly neighbor to see if he needed anything from the store tomorrow.
Your good thing can be big or small — whatever it is — enjoy it and savor it.
My personal experience.
My first anniversary for this practice came on March 15, 2020. I’d started it on International Day of Happiness in 2019. At the time, I was struggling a bit with my life in Madagascar and, in particular, waking up in the morning to do my yoga or other exercises.
I needed something to reframe my perspective. And so, I started the Three Good things practice before bed. Before I knew it, I started not only going to sleep with more ease; I also started to wake up happier. For some reason, my three good things from the day before tend to be the first thing I think of when I wake up, which almost primes me to get out of bed happily.
After a few weeks of this practice, I found myself for the first time in many moons waking up easily at 5:40 AM to exercise and have some time for me, before my kids wake up. My micro habit rolled over into a significant habit. Win-win!
My Aunt, who lost her partner to Alzheimer’s a year ago and who lives alone, also swears by Three Good Things, as does the friend who taught me, and thousands of positive psychologists around the world. Anyone anywhere can do this practice. Just try it.
Why You Should Try this Micro Habit Today (not tomorrow)
Last week I realized I wasn’t sleeping well. When I started to look into why I realized I’d dropped my gratitude practice. What happened?
Living in Madagascar, but with family and friends in Colorado, as the COVID-19 thing started to get serious State-side, I found myself in bed checking my phone, waiting for news updates. We are 9 hours ahead of Colorado, and so the news starts to roll in about bedtime for me. Instead of my Three Good Things, I was desperately checking the New York Times and my Facebook feed for NEWS.
Checking my phone before bed is already a bad idea, but doing it to look up news was even worse and for a week. No wonder I wasn’t sleeping well. No wonder each day, I was waking up more tired and more stressed.
Emotional roller coaster. Life right now is an emotional roller coaster. I get that. And, the Three Good Things practice has been my saving grace. Once I realized I needed to start it up again, I decided to put my phone in a different place to sleep and to say my three good things before I slept.
Relief. And good sleep. Are so important right now, especially to boost our immunity and our resilience.
I like to do the Three Good Thing practice in my head or sometimes out loud with my kids, but you can also write the three good things in your journal.
The bonus to writing down your Three Good Things each night is that when you have a particularly bad day, you can go back and read over your good things for a nice boost of warmth and joy.