My Magic Bullet for Happiness

I have a secret to share with you. It’s been called a magic bullet. For someone who staunchly DOES NOT BELIEVE in the quick fix solution, for me it’s pretty darn close to one.

Wait for it…Gratitude.

gratitudeIf you’re interested in shifting your mindset from can’t to can, impossible to possible, or more simply negative to positive, establishing a daily ritual of counting your blessings works wonders.

It’s not just the occasional words of thanks, but a quick yet deep dive into your everyday world. It’s oh so easy to reel off the day’s mishaps and woes, and we all love to do it. But think, just for a minute, about what’s going right for you.

From my interest in positive psychology, I knew of the power of gratitude. I started a daily journal on my phone, but honestly that lasted less than a week. It wasn’t until last summer that I discovered The Five Minute Journal. Ever since then, I’ve somewhat religiously spent (more like) two minutes each morning on waking and each night as I get into bed, jotting down my little lists of threes. (By the way, I’m not getting any kickbacks for this blog post.)

In the morning I record three things I am grateful for, followed by three thoughts on what would make the day great. On the days I wake with an already open and positive mindset, I go broad with gratitude for my kids, my health, and my family. On days that begin less auspiciously, I stick to things like my cozy bed.

At night I record three amazing things that happened – from getting a break from driving carpool to witnessing an incredible sunset.

The point is, whether your record things large or small, having the intention to think positively about your life and taking the extra step of writing it down are incredibly powerful. As the creators, Alex Ikonn and UJ Ramdas, say, the journal “…instantly helps you shift your focus on the positive and short circuits negative thought loops.”

Why is expressing gratitude so powerful? By practicing gratitude daily, the reflex is strengthened and becomes more automatic in your daily thinking. There’s research to back this. For example, a 2003 study by Emmons and McCullough found that daily gratitude journals lead to a greater sense of well-being, better sleep, willingness to accept change, and lessen symptoms of physical pain. In a word, you feel happier.

It’s a minimal investment of your time for a pretty awesome reward. Did I mention there are pertinent quotes and even some personal challenges throughout?

I can’t recommend the daily practice of gratitude enough, and The Five Minute Journal ends up being the magic bullet for me. I’d love to hear what works for you in the gratitude department.

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Roasted Veggie Paella

If the Farmers Market is in your plans for the weekend, pick up plenty of colorful veggies and try this new favorite recipe. Healthy comfort food.

ROASTED VEGGIE PAELLA
serves 6-8

INGREDIENTS

3-5 cups (or more) of fresh vegetables (eg. onion, red bell pepper, sweet potato, green beans, eggplant, zucchini, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
8 oz (1 package) seitan, tempe or other vegan protein
3 large green olives
1 cup brown rice (short grain works best)
1 32-oz box of vegetable broth
1 splash of white wine
Salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

IMG_4121Chop raw vegetables and roast them. (This chart gives optimal roasting times and temperatures.)

Meanwhile, sauté garlic in the olive oil. As it begins to soften but before it browns, add setian or other protein and allow to brown. Stir in uncooked rice until the grains to become coated with oil. Cook for a few minutes. Add a splash of white wine and stir until mostly evaporated.

Pour in about half of the vegetable broth. Stir in salt and pepper. Allow to simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated or been absorbed by the rice (15-30 minutes). Stir in the grilled vegetables, careful not to disturb the bottom layer of rice.

Add more liquid (broth or water) ½ cup at a time as needed until rice is soft, but still al dente. Continue simmering until all of the liquid has been absorbed. Stir to combine veggies and rice. Adjust seasoning to taste.

TIPS

I used green olives stuffed with jalapeno that gave the dish a nice bit of extra flavor. Plain olives or those stuffed with pimento will add great flavor too.

The sky is the limit as far as vegetable combinations. The onion gives nice flavor and the red bell pepper gives great color. The sweet potato makes the paella a bit heartier.

Download a PDF of this recipe.

Recipe adapted from One Green Planet