Sometimes it’s difficult to pay full attention to everything going on around us. During traffic-jammed commutes, it’s often easier to zone out and listen to the radio rather than admire landscapes or reflect on the day’s accomplishments. Yet, learning to stay mindful of the small gifts that come our way is a key to maximizing happiness. This can be as simple as learning to say “thank you,” or even keeping a daily log of positive things that happened.
As trite as a thankfulness journal may sound, psychologists have found that people who keep one feel better for it. Psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky had an experimental group jot down things they were grateful for once a week; a control group didn’t keep a gratitude log. After six weeks, the experimental group showed a significant boost in happiness [source: Wallis et al].