Wednesday, October 12, 2011


There are many theories about how to gain and maintain happiness, but only a few of them work. With that in mind, and remembering that trying to write can be a happiness-destroying way of life, here are some scientifically proven methods to help you gain and maintain happiness.

1 - DON'T try and force negativity out of your mind. By focusing on it, you give it more strength. If you doubt me, force yourself to NOT think of a Polar Bear. Do something that will distract you instead.

2 - Create a diary. Not one of these where you record the events of the day and who did what to whom, but an 'expressive diary'. Over a period of five days, write entries according to the following structure:

Day 1 - Thanksgiving. Think of three things in your life for which you can be thankful, no matter how small.
Day 2 - Terrific Times. Write about one of the most wonderful experiences of your life.
Day 3 - Future Fantastic. Don't write about unachievable things, but about your attainable future, one that you COULD achieve if you work hard at it.
Day 4 - Dear.... Think about someone important in your life. Write a letter to them (in the diary) telling them why they are important and how much they mean to you.
Day 5 - Review the situation. Think back over the past seven days and list three things that went well for you, no matter how trivial. It could be a parking space near to the shops, or being offered a new job.

You won't need to do this every week, but only when you feel down.

3 - Buy something. As odd as this sounds it works as long as we keep in mind that the things we remember most are not items but experiences. When buying something, make it an experience such as a back massage or a trip to somewhere you've wanted to go. (It has been shown through research that people who obsess over and buy lots of 'things' lack self-esteem. They rarely lack arrogance, but they do lack self-esteem)

You can find out more from ':59 Seconds' by Professor Richard Wiseman, from which the above have been purloined.

See you on Friday.


The Vegetable Assassin said...

I think I might try this so I am hereby bookmarking it! I'm a happy person generally, but lately so much crap has been going on, I need to get things in perspective to get back to my old self.

Plus I need a haircut. :)

Milo James Fowler said...

Practicing thankfulness definitely works for me; instead of focusing on what I don't have, I focus on what I do. In these tough economic times, I'm very grateful.

Martin Willoughby said...

Veg: I tried to have a haircut yesterday, but I couldn't find the damn thing.

Milo: I can see how far I've come in the past two years as a writer and I'm grateful for it.

DRC said...

I have down moments - who doesn't. In a bid to lift myself out of this depresion I always reflect on who I am and what I can do. There are some extremely creative people out there and I'm so thankful that I'm one of them.

Holly said...

I agree with you on the sentiment expressed about how a life of writing can be a life of pain. It's definitely a love/hate sort of relationship for me.

Your tips are good ones. I look forward to utilizing them.

Martin Willoughby said...

Holly: Glad to be of service.

[Naebsy] said...

Thank you! :)

Martin Willoughby said...

Naebsy: You're welcome.

Nick Wilford said...

Great post - I think as writers we can be too focussed on success and when it doesn't happen it's easy to feel that it never will. Writing can bring you happiness but it can also feel like a grind. But we all bring it on ourselves! I try to maintain a sense of balance and look at my family. Spending time with the kids makes me happy and takes me out of myself.

Martin Willoughby said...

Nick: We can allow ourselves to get dragged into the solitary world far too easily. taking time out with the family is a great idea and grounds us in reality.