What went well and why?

Suzy Greaves experiments with asking one question every night for a week to see if it can create a positive full stop to her day.

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I can often feel a bit fried by the end of the day and can be more vulnerable to those negative thoughts as I get ready for bed so I was very intrigued by a simple technique created by Dr. Martin Seligman, the founder of the Positive Psychology movement.

Author of Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being, he offers a simple end of the day practice that promises to enhance your well-being and lower depression.I tried it out for a week.

The practice:

Simply to ask the question – what went well and why? – before you go to sleep at night and write the answers in your journal.

“We think too much about what goes wrong and not enough about what goes right in our lives. Of course, sometimes it makes sense to analyze bad events so that we can learn from them and avoid them in the future. However, people tend to spend more time thinking about what is bad in life than is helpful. Worse, this focus on negative events sets us up for anxiety and depression,” Seligman says. He promises that if we continue this practice, we will be “less depressed, happier, and addicted to this exercise six months from now.”

What went well and why? (here is one of my entries)

1.I had a beautiful walk at lunchtime through the bluebells with the girls and we had chat about love and life. I love it that we can share our lives and have a laugh even when we’re at work.

2.I got home in time to spend some time with Charlie and we went for a long walk and talked about our holidays. Charlie and I talk best when we get out of the house and walk. I love that I have a good and fun relationship with my son.

3.I had a great conversation about Brene Brown and explored the possibility of creating a big event. I’m so excited about beaming her message further out into the world. What I love about Psychologies is that we can promote inspirational people to a global audience. This makes my life feel like it has meaning and purpose.

Did it work?

I’m a great fan of writing a journal but mostly write in the morning as I often feel too knackered at the end of the day. At first I found this exercise really challenging – I really didn’t want to write in my journal before bed. I was worried that I’d just end up dwelling on the negative thoughts. But of course, completing an exercise like this makes you focus on only the positives. It’s a positive and life affirming full stop to your day – the ‘why’ question is very powerful. I realised over the week how so many of my highlights were based around walking- especially if I was talking and connecting with other people at the same time. (Although my solo walks with Oscar the dog also featured) I also realised how building my life on my values is essential to my happiness. Being able to get an overview of what makes you happy obviously makes it easier to plan them into your day. Yes, this is a very useful, if not life changing, end-of-the-day practice that I intend to continue with.

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Suzy Walker

Editor of Psychologies, Psychologies

I am proud to be editor of Psychologies, a magazine that champions, challenges and coaches us to think differently so we can solve our own problems and create a life that nourishes us. Author of Making The Big Leap and The Big Peace, Suzy believes that the secret to happiness is living life to the full right here, right now, committing to a few goals now and again and taking Oscar, the Psychologies dog for a walk round the field when it all gets a bit too much.