As the new year begins, good things, however small, are happening.
Someone’s loved one got a new job in San Francisco. In Charlottesville, a canceled reservation allowed someone else to get a seat on a sold-out train and arrive in time for a wedding. The storybook characters Pooh and Piglet made someone in East Sussex, England, happy, and in Colorado Springs, ever-reliable bacon brightened someone’s day.
Grateful people have posted these bright spots on the World Gratitude Map, a crowd-sourcing project with an uplifting mission.
“That is what drove the World Gratitude Map, the idea of giving people the chance to create small moments for themselves to make themselves rich through their own action,” said Jacqueline Lewis, one of the project’s creators. Lewis is a writer with an interest in resilience, otherwise known as bouncing back.
She compares the map to a journaling exercise in which a person writes down three things for which he or she is grateful every day. Over time, she said, this practice shifts a person’s mindset. [7 Tips to Cultivate an Attitude of Gratitude]
“It is moving your mind over to this place where I think we should all be, which is to keep our eyes on all that is good, beautiful and possible in the world,” she said.
Positive emotions are challenging to study, because they are difficult to define, “and anything that is hard to define is hard to study,” said Emiliana Simon-Thomas, science director at the University of California, Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center.