Making Us Happier:  New Scientific Finding and New Psychologically Sound Daily Routine.  Really???

Making Us Happier: New Scientific Finding and New Psychologically Sound Daily Routine. Really???

In early July, the NBC Today show ran a series on how to be happier at work.  The show (Click here to view the show.) features Psychologist Shilagh Mirgain of the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds in Wisconsin suggesting that the Today Show staff add three “new” techniques to their daily routines and guaranteeing that doing so will reduce stress and increase happiness.  The “new” daily routines look very similar to some centuries-old Christian routines but with one very big difference.  They are all about us and they have been stripped of any mention of God or religion.  What is interesting is that this modern culture that often doubts the existence of God and almost worships individuality even at the expense of others and the common good, appears to recognize that we need what religion provides!  See for yourself.

In the section below is what the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds’ psychologist is proposing, their “5-3-1” (short for 5-minutes, 3 minutes and 1 minute) daily routine. In the second section are the Catholic Alive as the Body of Christ practices. 

Center for Investigating Healthy Minds’ 5-3-1 Daily Routine

1.  For 5 minutes a day, meditate, i.e., “return to the present moment in yourself.” 

2.  Write down 3 good things that happened today.  

3.  Do 1 act of kindness a day.

Our Catholic Practices

1.  Pray daily or more often, i.e., remember that God is here and quiet yourself enough to listen to God speaking in your heart and speak to God about what’s going on in you and around you.  The 5-3-1 routine says go inward and get to be with yourself vs. the Catholic pray daily – taking time to realize God is here and to rest in God’s presence.

2.  Be thankful for God’s blessings.  Even the Greek word eucharistia from which the word Eucharist is derived means thanksgiving, gratitude.

3.  Jesus said “As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”John 13:35  “Whatever you do to the least. . . , you do to me.” Matthew 25:40


One very big difference between the above modern approach and our Catholic approach is that the former is all about me and what I do and the latter is all about God and what God is doing in me and through me, in those around me and through those around me, in the world around me and through the world around me.  It is good for us to have the opportunity to look at both of these approaches.

So let’s thank The Today show for reminding us, in a roundabout way, to use the original 5-3-1 method to re-member ourselves by remembering that God is here (praying), thanking God for our blessings and being kind to others.  And, perhaps, when our thoroughly modern culture is steering us toward something else, instead of following blindly, we will look for a Catholic faith alternative.  After all, God made us. Who better to show us what can make us happy, fulfilled and truly ourselves?

An interesting exercise may be to compare The NBC Today show meditation video

The NBC Today show Sample Meditation 

to the way of prayer as described by Fr. Joseph McCloskey, SJ:

The Depth of Prayer

Centering Prayer

Silent Prayer

To learn more about prayer, view the other thirteen McCloskey videos in the above-mentioned links.  Click on the link and, when the webpage opens, scroll down to the find the links to all sixteen of Fr. McCloskey's videos.

Here is an example of the Daily Examen Prayer, a technique of prayerful reflection on the events of the day in order to detect God’s presence and workings in our lives.   This prayer form was developed by St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits.

Daily Examen Prayer

To learn more about the daily examen and Ignatian Spirituality visit

The Examen





%d bloggers like this: