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Sweat the Little Stuff

I don’t often break into science. But today I’m going to make with the (pseudo)science.

It’s been suggested that we require at least 3 positive experiences per negative experience to feel truly happy. (Read more about Dr Gottman’s theory here).

Our daily experiences follow a kind of inverse power law (see the graph for what that might look like). What this means is that the more significant the event, the less often we experience it. We enjoy – our suffer – life-changing events relatively infrequently but things like getting caught in traffic or spending time with a loved one might be a lot more frequent.

I think there’s a tendency to only celebrate the big wins: completed projects, new jobs or contracts, marriages, the start (or end) of the football season… But I suspect that to get our fill of positive experience we have to celebrate the small or even tiny victories. It’s only fair. Small negative events can nag. Might as well enjoy the positives too?

This morning, I shared a pleasant conversation and a laugh with a stranger. I’m calling that a win.