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Little Reminders Create Big Changes

You know why older people are happier?

Research shows as we age we remember the good and forget the bad:

Yeah, that’s all it takes. So if you could just regularly get reminders of the good things in your life, well, you’d be halfway there…

And it’s not speculation — research shows thinking about the good things actually does make you happier.

Reminders, something as simple as a post-it note, are very powerful – and for more than just remembering to buy milk.

Studies show simple reminders help people act more ethically, quit smoking, and save more money.

And a couple well placed post-it notes can have a major impact foryou too.

A while back I posted about how just sending 5 simple emails a day can improve your life.

Here are five little reminders that can help you create big changes:


Make note of three things you’re thankful for.

We think of happiness as something deep and profound but it’s often as simple as keeping the good things “top of mind.”

This technique has been proven again and again and again. Here it is, explained by its originator, University of Pennsylvania professor Martin Seligman.

Via Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being:

Here’s what’s really fascinating: the opposite works too. Keep a record of bad things and you’ll make yourself increasingly miserable.

Patients with chronic pain were told to keep track of all the awful symptoms they experienced. They did — and felt dramatically worse:

Stop thinking you need more good stuff to happen to be happier — and just remind yourself of the good that’s already here.

(More on how to be happy here.)


Make a note of a couple accomplishments you’re most proud of.

What does University of Chicago psychology professor Sian Beilock recommend when you’re not feeling so great about yourself?

Look at your resume.

Reviewing your credentials can remind you how talented you are and boost confidence levels.

Via Choke: What the Secrets of the Brain Reveal About Getting It Right When You Have To:

Your resume is designed to make you sound impressive to others — and it can have the same effect on you.

(More ways to be more confident here.)


Scribble down something you’re looking forward to.

Looking forward to something is powerful. It makes us hopeful, happier and optimistic.

Anticipation can actually be more pleasurable than getting the thing you’re anticipating:

Got nothing you’re looking forward to? No problem. Make some fun plans — and then write those down.

(More on how to feel satisfied with life here.)


Write down a favorite memory that makes you feel good.

Research shows we can add a feeling of meaning to our lives by being nostalgic:

When life doesn’t make sense, get lost in that memory for a little while. Nostalgia restores a sense of purpose when times are hard.

(More on how to add meaning to your life here.)


Write down the name of a hero you admire.

Dan Coyle, author of The Talent Code, says that one of the best things we can do is think more about the people we want to be like:

The hero doesn’t even have to be a real person. Batman? Wolverine? They’ll do just fine. Even fictional characters we admire motivate us to be like them:

Did you have a superhero poster on your bedroom wall when you were a kid? You were on to something. ;)

(More things research says can make you successful here.)


Five post-it notes. Five reminders.

That’s all it takes to add a bit more happiness, confidence, optimism, meaning and success to your life.

Sometimes you need something to make you feel lucky.

Sometimes you just need to be reminded that you already are.

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Related posts:

4 Lifehacks From Ancient Philosophers That Will Make You Happier

What 10 things should you do every day to improve your life?

How To Make Your Life Better By Sending Five Simple Emails

This piece originally appeared on Barking Up the Wrong Tree.

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