Our brains are magnificently wired to help us survive, which means, among other things, that we recognize danger more immediately and often more intensely than we recognize ease, pleasure, and joy. Fortunately for those of us not living with saber-tooth tigers at our doorstep, we can retrain our brains so that we see the myriad of details in our lives that can make us happy and deserve our gratitude. And when we notice them, we can cheer the lives of others by sharing them. Patricia H. Livingston points out the value of this practice in an excerpt from her book Let in the Light: Facing the Hard Stuff with Hope:
"There is another way to open ourselves to goodness that I really enjoy, one I have written about before. It is a simple practice I call 'The One Good Thing.' It involves having an agreement with friends or family that, on some regular basis, when you get together or get in touch, you will tell each other one good thing that has happened since the last time you talked.
"What I have noticed about this practice is that it trains my eye. Because I know that I'll be called upon to name One Good Thing, I am on the lookout for goodness. We see what we are looking for. If we are looking for what goes wrong, we can certainly find it. If we are looking for examples of goodness, there is so much good to discover. This may sound like a little thing, but it can make a big difference."— Patricia H. Livingston, Patricia Campbell Carlson in Let in the Light by Patricia H. Livingston