3 Good Things: Happiness for Beginners

Last month, I revisited one of my favourite books from last year, Happiness for Beginners by Katherine Center. If you haven’t read it and you are looking for a good summer read that is quite light-hearted but SO fun, I would absolutely recommend it. I love book that I can think back on. Some of my favourite books of all time might not be high literature or recommended for everyone, but they make me think a bit about how I can make my life better or how I can approach a situation in a new way. I think about parts of Happiness for Beginners quite often and re-read sections of it now and then when I just want to revisit the characters. There are also a number of wonderful quotes and happy life lessons in the book.

If you haven’t read the book yet, it’s about a woman named Helen who decides to do a three week camping/hiking/intense outdoor adventure with a group just for a change in life after her divorce. She ends up being the oldest in the group, and she generally feels like she doesn’t fit in. Her younger brother’s friend is along on the trip too (there’s more to that story if you catch my drift). One of the other hikers is named Windy. She is an easygoing, Buddhist, happy, friendly, smart young woman that Helen wants to hate but can’t help but love. Windy is studying positive psychology and she says to Helen  says that you should always try to find three good things each day. She expresses this during a particularly challenging day on the hike. Here’s what she says:

“The more you register good things, the more you will think about and remember good things. And since all you really have left of the past is what you remember —” ‘
“It changes the story of your life,” Helen finishes.
Windy also tells her: “Write three good things you remember of that day every night.”

This idea is excellent for Helen as she struggles through difficult thoughts and physically challenging days hiking out doors. Furthermore, this concept is probably not unfamiliar to many of us: If you are interested in being happier at all, you’ve probably come across the practice of writing down a few things you’re grateful for at the end of the day. The book expands a bit into glass-half-full talk too:

“Well, for example, happy people are more likely to register joy than unhappy people. So if you take two people who have experienced a day of, say, fifty percent good things and fifty percent bad things, an unhappy person would remember more of the bad.” 

I love the idea of changing your mental networks by trying to remember as many positive memories as you can. I know for sure that I remember happy moments with my kids a lot more than I remember tantrums. I try to express and acknowledge my gratitude for my life as much as I can, but some days it is easy to get bogged down by tiredness, or the weather, or feeling busy or overwhelmed. 

Here are 3 good things on my mind today for Thursday Thoughts. 
1) It has been gorgeous, sunny, and spring-like the past few days and I am enjoying time spent outdoors whenever possible. We are blessed to live in a beautiful location of the world.

2) My week has been busy with fun things, including a lot of quality time with a close friend who I don’t see nearly often enough.

3) My children have been adorable, loving, and well-behaved in particular this week, and I am loving this stage that our little family is in.

Anyone else read this book? It would really make for perfect summer reading, in my opinion! I have enjoyed 3/5 of her books – I still have 2 left to read and she has a new book coming out early 2018!!

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