Bob Denny : The choices we make

Published: Monday, January 2, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, December 28, 2011 at 11:07 p.m.

Did you get up this morning, not looking forward happily to the day? Or worse, did you worry about what loomed ahead? Last evening, did you feel like you didn’t accomplish anything?

Without a little thought and effort, today could be another day that just slips away. We’re each only given a certain number of days in a lifetime. Wouldn’t it be better if those days were fun, satisfying, uplifting and meaningful?

What if you saw every day as an interesting and fulfilling adventure? Would you like to really appreciate and savor each day?

Maybe your day was good, but it just slipped by unnoticed. Sometimes we don’t realize how good our day really was until later, when we take the time to look back on it. Wouldn’t it feel good to appreciate and celebrate the day’s opportunities, the choices you made, and the directions in which you steered your life? It’s really easy to develop this attitude. Here’s how.

It starts by just making a choice to reflect on each day. Take a couple of moments in the early morning, and a short time at the end of your day.

In the morning, write down just a couple of things you’d really like to do, or to get done today. Choose activities that are easily accomplished, satisfying, fulfilling, fun, or enjoyable. Look for things that can take you a step closer towards your goals and dreams.

Keep it simple. You could take a break to stretch and relax, walk your dog, straighten up your desk, get that chore done, or make that phone call to someone you care about.

Near the end of your day, when things are winding down, take a moment to reflect back on your day. Did you accomplish at least one thing you wanted to get done? Did you enjoy something new and different?

Make a short list of “Today’s successes,” or maybe “Good things that happened today.” Psychologists tell us that focusing on the positive part of your day can help develop positive thinking strengths and a happier attitude, and can turn around sadness, frustration, anger and boredom. Remember getting that pesky chore done, walking the dog, or having a good conversation with a friend and finding something else we have in common.

Having trouble finding enough good stuff that happened today? That’s okay. You’re not primed to notice those happy events yet. You may become more sensitized to those good things, and be able to notice them tomorrow. Do it a few times and it becomes an automatic habit.

Still struggling a little? How about expanding your list to include good things that happened this week, this month or this year?

Congratulations. Just by reading this, you may already be making your life a little happier. Psychological research shows that positive attitudes increase the quality and length of life. Take that moment to appreciate your small successes and good times.

Bob Denny is a licensed mental health counselor and worked with troubled youth and families for 15 years. He teaches psychology at Florida Gateway College.

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