When it comes to social media I have a passive approach – I don’t tend to post much about what’s going on in my life, but I do like to dip in to see what other people are up to. This can help to keep me connected to those I don’t see on a daily basis, finding out who has a new job, car, or where they have been on holiday; but it can also lead to FOMO – the fear of missing out. Social media means we are constantly seeing what others are up to resulting in inevitable comparisons and the fear that your life is somehow not matching up to that of others… and it really isn’t good for our mental health.
Now I know that social media often only shares the ‘highlights of life’ – good or bad – and that people don’t post about daily monotonies. However, what I’ve noticed recently is that a small number of my friends on social media have taken a somewhat different approach to their postings – they’ve decided to focus on the positives in every day life. And what a refreshing change this is.
So rather than having a rant or sharing pictures of their big night out, they’re posting the little things that they are grateful for – simple things like:
- Their partner bringing them breakfast in bed
- Wearing their favourite shoes for work
- Someone smiling at them in the street
- Getting a seat on the tube
- Their boss thanking them for a task they did well
So I began to think about some of the things that have happened to me recently and the different ways I could share the experience.
The Department Store – A trip to pick up a present could be told through two alternative narratives.
Option 1 – Having carried around a bunch of items, all from different parts of the store, I discovered that you needed to pay for said items within their own department, and had to traipse back across the shop to pay for everything – frustrating when you are against the clock.
Option 2 – At the final desk I had a really nice chat with the cashier. It started with me asking how her day was going before we moved on to discussing different holiday destinations. The frustration of walking across the store disappeared and I left feeling boosted by a friendly social interaction.
The Dog Walk – Now regular readers will know all about Lord Archie Archibald of Keizer. During Sally’s recent bout of illness I offered to help out and take her adorable Lab pup for a walk. Again, there are two ways we could look at this.
Option 1 – For the first half of the walk the Lord decided that everything was far more interesting than the treat I held in my hand – doing just what he pleased no matter how hard I tried to follow the training tips. He was sniffing lampposts, trying to scramble into bushes and laying down refusing to move.
Option 2 – During the second part of the walk, Archie was much, much better. Earlier challenges overcome, he was walking to heal and completely interested in the treat. In fact, he would have been a candidate to win this year’s obedience at Crufts!
The Deliveries– A scheduled day of multiple parcel deliveries could be taken two ways.
Option 1 – The 2-hour delivery windows for each package were spread throughout almost all of the day; no gap to pop out. And the third package could arrive anytime; no time slot. So I took a chance and popped to the supermarket in a tiny window when the ‘scheduled’ packages weren’t due. Guess what – the third parcel arrived then!
Option 2 – Being at home for the day allowed me to: tidy the house, do my accounts, washing, change the beds and catch up on some emails. All nicely completed, so I could then enjoy a slow-cooked stew and light the fire. And when I popped out to the shops, my neighbour called me to say there was a delivery and I asked her to tell the driver to leave it on the doorstep.
So, everything I’ve written about did happen, but I can choose to focus either on the negative or the positive perspective. And research shows that focusing on the positive is the way to go for a happy life, as psychologists Fred Bryant and Joseph Veroff discovered. In their book, Savouring: A New Model of Positive Experience, they suggest there are great health benefits to savouring life, which they explain as, “the capacity to attend to the joys, pleasures, and other positive feelings that we experience in our lives”.
Closely connected to looking out for the positive, is also being thankful for those little things. Here at the Happynesshub, Day 1 of the 21-Day package is all about gratitude. As we discussed there, research has shown that one of the greatest contributors to happiness in your life is how much gratitude you show. The exercise suggests writing down things you are thankful for – but by using social media we could share these with others, and even encourage them to do the same.
So, why not think about the positive occurrences in you life that you are grateful for – the person who smiled at you on the train or the delicious dinner you made, and share it with your friends – tag @Happynesshub on Facebook or Twitter and we’ll share your experiences too. And if you’re not on social media, why not do it offline by writing it down as a list and stick it to the fridge so that visitors can see it too.