What Are Your Three Good Things?
One of the best techniques I've learned to improve my ability to cope when migraine wears me down is to make note of three good things that happen each day. It may sound like a small or silly thing, but it is incredibly powerful, especially on days when it felt like there was no good in my life. Please join us on the Migraine.com forum, where we invite everyone to share their three good things each day this month.
Migraine is all consuming
With frequent, chronic, or even constant migraines, life can seem pretty bleak. The pain, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, brain fog, or whatever else your personal constellation of symptoms includes can be incredibly wearing. When my migraines were at their most severe, I put all my energy and attention into survival and everything else fell away.
After months of physical and emotional misery, I was exhausted and unhappy. Each day seemed like a terrible slog and I’d end each day wondering how in the world I’d make it through another. Not only was migraine exhausting me, so was my attitude. Knowing that this couldn’t possibly be helping me, I tried to change my outlook by challenging myself to think of three good things that happened each day.
There's always good
Finding even three good things while mired in migraine attacks might seem impossible. It did to me, but that was kind of the point. I was so focused on the negative aspects of my experience – and there were many – that I couldn’t see any good in my life. But there’s always good, even if it is so tiny as to be almost imperceptible.
Acknowledging the small things
My daily list didn’t include grand accomplishments, but an acknowledgment of the small things in the day for which I was glad: I was able to shower, I listened to my favorite song, the glass by my bed had enough water to swallow my meds, I ate a delicious strawberry, my husband and I laughed together. Sometimes I was primarily grateful that tomorrow was a new day. After a few weeks, I began seeing more and more good things in each day that the bad no longer dominated my thoughts.
Finding the good and feeling better
My migraine frequency and severity didn’t suddenly lift when my attitude changed, but I began to cope better. Instead of feeling utterly defeated and hopeless, I developed the strength to try new treatments. I knew that if I could find three good things each day when I was housebound and mostly bedridden, that there was a world of good things to find. I was no longer striving just to lessen the impact of migraine, I was working to feel better so I could experience as much goodness as my life could hold.
The science of living a fuller life
Not only was this a powerful motivator in my own treatment, headache specialist Dr. Robert Cowan, director of Stanford’s headache clinic, says it is a characteristic of patients who are most likely to find a successful treatment. Dr. Cowan has found that patients whose only goal is to reduce or stop their migraines are less successful at finding effective treatment than those who are motivated to reduce their migraines so that they can live a fuller life.1
I’ve fallen out of the practice of thinking of three good things each day and would like to get started again. Will you join me on Migraine.com’s “three good things” forum thread? Each day for the next month, I’ll post my three good things and invite you to do the same.
Your list doesn’t need to be detailed and the items don’t need to be huge, just a recognition of some good things that happened in your day. Research shows that after a month of listing three good things every day, people are happier and less depressed.2 And it's OK if you can't join us every day -- recognizing the good things in your life less frequently can still be beneficial.3 (If you’re not comfortable sharing your three good things publicly, keeping a private list is just as helpful.)
Have you shared your migraine story with us yet?