For most people, a new year means embarking on some kind of personal stocktake: How is my health looking? Are my relationships successful? Is my career on the right track? Am I happy?
Have you ever thought how bloody lovely it would be to have a little life guide or manual to tell you what the hell you're supposed to be doing? Some call it having friends, others say it's a good therapist. A few might even call it a good book. Today, I've come to see it as Clare Desira, founder of the Top Five Movement and an actual human with practical tips that help people get their shit together.
Like many high achievers, Clare's philosophy started with a list. Each day she started writing down five good things that happened to her that day.
"Many of us are really clueless about what makes us happy," she tells me. "We're busy and we've got more information than we've ever had heading our way, and it can be really easy to assume what might make us happy, isn't actually making us happy.
"So the Top Five Movement [Clare's list-making project] is all about helping people slow down, take a moment, reflect and really understand what's truly making them happy so they can weave more of those things into their lives."
Whether it's a chat with your barista or making the train just before it left the station, Clare thinks by taking a magnifying glass to your day and acknowledging the nice parts, you can train yourself to find and recognise joy.
While you'd be forgiven for thinking the Top Five Movement is similar to the more commonly-known practice of meditating or expressing gratitude, Clare thinks there's an important distinction.
Clare found when people write gratitude lists, they end up writing the same thing every time because they're asking themselves the same question: "What am I grateful for?"
Instead, taking stock of the positive things that happen to us each day - however tiny those things may be - is effectively a way of training us to keep an eye out for those happy moments.
"Some research has shown we have 65,000 thoughts a day, and most of those thoughts are negative and most of them are on repeat," Clare explains. "Around 90 per cent of these thoughts, consciously or subconsciously, are on a loop."
For this reason, Clare believes we have to seize this '10 per cent' window of opportunity to help our thoughts be positive - and recognising little positive moments is the first step.
So how do you do it? Exactly like Clare, you just start making a list of the nice things that happened that day.
For those who struggle, Clare has some prompt cards with questions to help jog your memory. To start us off, I asked her to tell me five of her favourite questions.
- Compared to five or ten years ago, what knowledge are you most grateful for today?
- Which sense (taste, touch, smell, sight or hearing) are you most grateful for today and why?
- What made you feel confident, proud, inspired or kind today?
- Of all the things you spent money on today, what do you value most?
- Everybody takes some things for granted. What do you take for granted that you are really grateful for?
Alright, let's do this ladies and gents! Wishing you all the best 2017!
To get your hands on the Top Five Movement cards, visit the website.