I recently went to visit my brother in Vancouver and he taught me a powerful tool to increase happiness in only 3 minutes a day: A daily Gratitude Practice.
Here's how it works: Every day when you are with another person, ask them if they'd like to do Gratitude Practice with you. If they say yes, one of you starts by listing ten things you are grateful for, followed by one challenge you are experiencing. When the first person is done, the other person says "Thanks for sharing" and proceeds to do the same. Then the first person says "Thanks for sharing" and you are done.
Do this for 3 days in a row and you'll be amazed at how it positively affects your mood. It's hard not to feel happier after presencing yourself to all the people, places and things in your life that bring you joy and make it great to be alive.
A few notes on Gratitude Practice:
- When a person is going through their ten things, don't interrupt or ask questions. Just let them talk and practice listening intently. Try to feel their gratitude.
- When you are sharing the things you are grateful for, feel free to go into as much or as little detail as you like on each one. Sometimes it's fun to give detail, sometimes it's nice to stay concise.
- After your partner shares their challenge, don't try to fix it or offer advice. Just say "Thanks for sharing". There's magic in sharing and acknowledging a challenge with a friend who just listens.
- If you aren't with someone physically you can do Gratitude Practice over the phone, or over audio-message. The latter is fun, especially as a way to catch up with people you miss. Just send them an audio message "hi so-and-so, want to do daily Gratitude Practice with me?". This feature is built in to Apple's Messages app, and is also possible with apps like Vox.
- I haven't tried Gratitude Practice over text message yet but I assume it would work albeit with reduced potency. It's more fun and much higher bandwidth to hear someone's voice as they list what they are grateful for.
And that's it. I've made this a daily habit and have noticed a big positive difference in my mood with just a couple minutes a day. Try it out!