This is for all of those who feel blue, the pessimists. This is an exercise for those who never have anything nice to say.
The blessings list is exactly how it sounds, counting your blessings. Here is the exercise: By the end of the day, a person must write a list of all the good things that have happened that day. These can be small, seemingly trivial delights such as drinking your favorite cup of coffee or finding a dime under the sofa. Food can certainly be a joy; it doesn't have to be extravagant meals, just meals you like. Be weary, however, of only putting food items on the list.
The good things on a blessings list can be chocolates, but it can also be vegetables. Things on the list don't have to be just good things that happened to you, but tasks that are good for you as well. Exercising, drinking a bottle of water, performing a chore, reading a chapter of a new book; these are accomplishments that make an individual feel good. This also includes helping others, or hearing good news about a friend and being happy for someone who is close to you. Here are the rules:
- No, you cannot write a list of all the bad things that have happened to you today just so you can dwarf your blessings list. That defeats the whole purpose of a blessings list. It is not written to contrast with the negatives; it is written to acknowledge the existence of the good. No matter how bad a day you had, good things still occurred in that day. It is easy to remember the bad; this exercise makes you look at the positives that are often ignored.
- No "didn'ts". Do not fill your entire list with things that did not happen, such as your boss didn't yell at you today or you didn't get hurt rock climbing. This just reinforces that bad things "should" have happened today. A person can still include these things, but it needs to be written in a positive sense. Instead of writing "I didn't get lost" write "I found my way home." If a boss said something nice today, write that down, but if he or she kept to him/herself "didn't yell at you", then there is no point of writing it; it's neutral. No neutrality on the list
- Although the list can be as long as the individual makes it, a person has to write down at the bare minimum of 10 good things on the list. No matter how bad of a day, there has to be 10 good things that either happened to you, you did for someone else, or you did for yourself. There is no exception to this rule. These good things include watching a TV program, playing with your pet, talking with a friend, watching a funny YouTube video. If someone really can't think of 10 things by the end of the day, it is either because they are not thinking hard enough or they don't want to think hard enough. If it is near the end of the day and someone only has seven blessings on the list, then create the remainder: finish that chapter, do those crunches, find that funny clip online and get a laugh. There should always be 10 good things about today.
I did not put this in the rules, but keep in mind that this is supposed to be a positive list of nice things. Getting pleasure off of the misery of others, presumably of enemies from work or bad neighbors, really shouldn't be included on the list. For example, someone you really dislike got into some kind of trouble. This may secretly brighten your day, but because it is at the expense of others, it taints the whole idea. I wouldn't put mean-spirited things down as good, but to each his or her own. Much like listing just food items, however, having the majority of the list being at the expense of others implies a problem.
It is good to write this list when you have a bad day. I encourage those who are gloomy all the time to write a blessings list every day, and hopefully as time goes on each list will expand. I also encourage others to encourage others. Everybody knows someone who complains all the time, the pessimists who can hardly take a compliment or go two minutes talking without complaing about something or someone. This list is meant to make you appreciate the little things in life.
My blessings list for Dec. 26, 2011 (an uneventful, rainy day):
Received a belated gift from a relative
Brother emailed me back/made plans with him
Finally bought my diet ginger ale I've been craving
Also Ritz crackers
Cleaned up wrapping decorations off of floor
Finally I can access MineCraft again
Read another chapter
Drank a bottle of water
Played on MineCraft for a bit
Fed fiddler crabs
Separated fiddler crabs before a fight ensued
Played with dog
Did 100 crunches
Wrote things I’ve been meaning to write
Drank good coffee
Listened to new music
Finally wrote and published another hub