By Yvonne Milosevic
Here at the Blacklight, we’re always on the lookout for tips that can improve our personal and professional lives. We’ve now done a full lap around the sun living with a pandemic and could still use some hacks to make our days brighter. A recent HBR post by Neil Pasricha, author of The Happiness Equation, has just the prescription we need. His simple daily routine takes two minutes to perform and primes your brain for positivity.
Every morning, Pasricha suggests you reflect on and write down three things: what you’ll focus on, what you’re grateful for, and what you’ll let go of. Each of these components is valuable and serves a specific purpose, so don’t skip any. Here’s why.
Write Down What You’ll Focus On
Pasricha’s daily routine involves a stack of index cards, but you can use sticky notes, a journal, or a notebook, too. He says writing down what he’ll focus on each day helps him concentrate on some “will dos” from the endless list of could and should dos.
“The practice began providing ballast to my days because it blew away the endless fog of ‘what should I do next?’ and helped break giant projects down into simple tasks,” Pasricha explains.
While Pasricha’s daily routine happens every morning, other people use evening routines to the same effect. For example, author Jack Canfield of Chicken Soup for the Soul fame swears by the power of the nightly list. He says having a clear road map prevents you from getting waylaid responding to other people’s needs and demands.
Write Down What You’re Grateful For
Studies have shown that feeling and expressing gratitude helps reduce stress and anxiety. It helps us refocus on what we have rather than what we’re missing. As Oprah Winfrey says, “If you look at what you have in life, you’ll always have more. If you look at what you don’t have in life, you’ll never have enough.”
Pasricha has found that the key to success with this tenet is getting hyper-specific. “Writing down things like ‘my apartment, my mom, and my job’ over and over doesn’t do anything,” he notes. “I had to write down things like, ‘the way the sunset looks over the hostel across the street,’ or ‘when my mom dropped off leftover matter paneer,’ or ‘having lunch in the cafeteria with Agostino today’.”
Expressing gratitude on the regular can improve our friendships, romantic relationships, and even our professional lives. If you could do one thing to increase your health and happiness, conveying gratitude is it.
Write Down What You Will Let Go Of
Is it time you got rid of your inner ruminator? With their thoughts replaying on an endless loop, ruminators obsessively stew over bothersome events and think they’re “problem-solving.” But that intense overthinking often causes stress, anxiety, and depression.
Pasricha has included writing down what he will let go of ever since reading a study that shows minimizing regrets boosts our contentment as we age. Even letting go of the small things that weigh us down can do wonders for our outlook.
For instance, Pasricha writes things like, “I will let go of…the meeting with the boss I completely missed. I will let go of…the fact that I haven’t called my parents in two weeks.” We can’t change the past, but we can let go of disappointments to improve how we’ll feel in the future.
“The difference this little practice made in my life has been incredible,” Pasricha reveals. “Because the truth is, we’re only awake for around 1,000 minutes a day on average. If we can invest just two of them to prime our brains for positivity, then we’ll be helping ensure the other 998 minutes of our days are happier.”