I live in the North. And it's January. In the North in January, there isn't a lot of sunshine. And a lot of people feel that they are more depressed in the winter at least in part because of that reality.
You leave the house and it's dark.
It can feel like you shuttle from one place to another in the dark. It's depressing. And certainly, we have good science to suggest that is true. We have copious amounts of research to suggest that there is a direct link between lack of sunshine and increased depression rates.
So what do we do about it? Well, there is truly a simple hack that research suggest will help us to be happier and more content. As a side note, I believe that happiness can only be a bi-product of contentment. Most research suggests that people have the same types of interactions throughout the day. The optimist (happy person) and the pessimist (less happy person) tend to have the same types of things happen to them throughout a day, week, month and year.
The optimist just has a brain that seeks out the positives over the negatives. I know this sounds overly simplistic, but the research is almost overwhelming. For a quick introduction to this idea, read Adam Grant's book, Originals.
What does this mean for us and happiness? Well, there is another guy named, Shawn Achor who tells us that we can train our brain. You can watch one of my favorite presentations by him here.
How do we train our brain? Force it to look for the positive things in your day. Force your brain to seek out things to be thankful for in a day.
That's it. It's an incredibly simple hack that once developed can help you be more content and more happy. It can lower levels of depression and some studies even suggest it can help reduce levels of anxiety and depression.
Take five minutes each night and write our three things that happened that day that you're thankful for from that day. Yes, you can do it the next day but most people who stick with the night time routine do it longer. Over time, your brain will start to look for the good in the day and this will have definitive impact on your outlook for the day.
Change your outlook on enough days, and eventually your will change your outlook on the world and your life.
The evil that is in the world will still be there. I'm a mental health counselor and I see the victims of that evil regularly.
The stupid that is in the world will still be there.
The hard that is in the world will still be there.
But and that but is so big it belongs on a Kardashian Instagram page, if we train out brain to see the positive and good things in the world we can transcend those others increasing our ability to impact our own circles.