Four Words That Could Change Your Life
From a writer who has used them to change hers
The four words that could change your life are not eloquent or inspirational. They are actually quite ordinary. Yet they have the potential to transform your negative outlook on life into gratitude.
The writer who shared them with me has experienced their power firsthand. That is why I’m quoting her instead of writing about them myself. Her name is Katie Hawkins-Gear and this is an excerpt from “My Sweet Dumb Brain,” her wonderful newsletter.
It all began when we heard Chaka Khan and Rufus’ 1974 hit single, “Tell Me Something Good,” playing in the background of a TV show or movie we were watching.
“Tell Me Something Good” is the kind of R&B earworm you can’t shake, and while I cannot for the life of me remember what we were watching when we heard it, I do remember how it looped in my head for the rest of the evening.
That night, as Billy and I settled into bed, I sang my best version of the song’s titular line. “Tell me something good!” I belted in my cheesiest voice.
“No really, what was good about your day?” I asked.
Billy laughed, then shared a moment that made him smile. He asked me the same question, and I offered up a bright spot in my day.
That was sometime in December. It’s now March, and every night, no matter what kind of mood we’re in, we’ll always tell each other something good.
You may not have a partner or other family member with whom you can share something good about your day in person. You could call or text a friend instead. You could post it as a comment here. You could write “tell me something good” at the top of a page in your journal or type it on your computer screen. However you choose to do it, document one good thing, no matter how small, about your day.
Do that every day, no matter what, and see how it changes your perspective. I think you’ll be amazed at how much of a difference it makes!
As Katie notes, the last few years have been unusually difficult for all of us, and the torrent of bad news seems never-ending. She sums up my usual outlook on life well with these words:
For me, at least, it feels like I’ve adopted a low-level sense of dread about the future. This will probably be bad has become my go-to approach for most things. On an optimistic day, I might add, but hopefully not too bad!
Then she adds this important truth:
Despite our brains’ tendency to wallow in the negative, it’s no fun. It’s not healthy. It can easily drain us. Training our minds to look for and focus on the positive is a really crucial and important skill—not only for our own wellbeing, but for the benefit of the people around us.
Katie notes that over the years she has tried things like meditation, looking at old photos to relive happier times, and keeping a gratitude journal. None of them worked as well as the “tell me something good” daily ritual. She says it,
feels like the best brain rewiring I’ve done in a while. Now, when an especially sweet, funny, or happy moment occurs, my mind lights up in recognition. Something good! There it is! I file that moment away, ready to share at the end of the day.
One thing I know is true for me (and everyone, according to scientific research) is that my brain automatically notices negative things. I have to make a conscious effort to notice good ones.
When I walk in a park, the first thing I notice is the litter scattered on the ground or in the water. It saddens and angers me. I have to force myself to pay attention to the beauty of the trees and the butterflies, ducks, turtles, rabbits, and other animals I see instead.
So you may find it hard, especially at first, to think of anything good about your day. Remember, it doesn’t need to be something major. Maybe you heard your favorite song on the radio. Maybe you saw a pretty flower, sunset, or full moon. Maybe you enjoyed the feel of warm water on your skin as you took a shower. Maybe something you read made you laugh.
If you look for something good, you’ll find it. Let me know what you find and how it changes the way you view your life and the world.
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