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Mental Health

Feel good more often: Why you should celebrate small wins

Have you ever noticed how easy it is for us to feel down on ourselves? We generally don’t have a problem feeling guilty about what we perceive as poor performance. Whether the misstep is big or small, punishing oneself seems to come naturally for many. But when it comes to feeling proud about accomplishing something, it is easy to let the moment slip through our fingertips.

This discrepancy is a problem, as it decreases our motivation and makes it that much harder to achieve long-term successes.

The importance of celebrating small wins

Celebrating small wins is an important way to track incremental achievements and work toward much larger goals. Plus, it makes you feel good more often.

In a study of how everyday life inside organizations can influence a person’s performance, researchers analyzed nearly 12,000 diary entries from 238 employees across seven companies. They found that capturing small wins every day enhances a worker’s motivation. Simply recording progress in some way helps to boost self-confidence and can be put to use toward future successes.

How our brain rewards us for these victories

There is science behind this thought process too. When you accomplish something, it activates the reward center of our brains, allowing us to feel a sense of pride. Specifically, the neurochemical dopamine is released and energizes us with feel-good emotions. This chemical helps you to experience the feeling of getting rewarded, and can hook you on wanting to achieve even more.

These modest behavior changes set off a positive chain reaction for even bigger developments later on.

Small wins to get you started

To set off the positive domino effect, start by celebrating small wins each day. Listed below are just a few examples of simple ways you can start to think small.

1. Straighten up your bed before you leave the house

When you complete this simple task, it incites a nice burst of dopamine first thing in the morning. This sparks the initial feeling of accomplishment, which is carried throughout the day. The other positive is that your room will be ready for relaxation when you return in the evening.

2. Will it take less than two minutes? Check it off now

When you are able to cross minor to-do’s off your list, do it. This basic act can help build momentum and propel you forward to accomplish much larger tasks later on. The other positive is getting that surge of dopamine each time something is crossed off your list, no matter how minor.

3. Take time to daydream

Taking time to reflect internally is linked with your emotional well-being. This can help you come up with creative ideas and consolidate memories. As long as the reflection is constructive, it is a small way to have a positive impact.

4. Improve your posture

It only takes a moment, but straightening your posture throughout the day can help you feel present and accomplished, whether you are seated at your desk or on the move.

Don’t forget to celebrate!

Each time you set a small goal like the ones listed above, take the time to pause and celebrate when you actually achieve one. You may want to consider some light bragging to mark the achievement, to help reflect on how far you’ve come from the start of a project.

Even if they take just 5 to 10 minutes, small wins can stack up over time and become significant markers of progress and happiness.

This article first appeared on Talkspace.

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