How often do you stop to catch yourself in the act of doing something right? Or anybody else for that matter . . .

As opposed to dinging yourself for every single mistake you make, every flaw you find on your face, in your character, your clothes, your finances, your relationship, your friends--need I go on? We’ve got catching ourselves (and/or our friends, employers, loved ones, strangers, celebrities and whoever else) doing it wrong down to a fine art, practiced umpteen times a day with zeal and gusto.

But here’s the thing: negativity ruins relationships. Whether it’s in your relationship with yourself or with others, it takes five positive comments to counter a single negative one. That’s how much we take to heart negativity, usually in the form of criticism that points out how stupid/boring/lazy or fashion-challenged we are.

Well, the Denver police department decided to go against our damaging “doing it wrong” habit, and take “catching them in the act of doing it right” to the streets. Literally. As part of a program to promote pedestrian and driver safety, police officers have been handing out cards saying, “You got caught doing something right” to persons they observe doing something good: like using a crosswalk or lending a hand to a stranger.

Even better--these cards are actually gift cards worth $10 at the local Papa John’s Pizza! Before you up and move to Denver, benefit from the Denver PD’s great idea right where you are, by doing the same for yourself and others.

This Thanksgiving, catch people--including yourself--in the act of doing something right! It’s one of the best ways I know of to demonstrate gratitude for this amazing life we are privileged to experience. Every hour, on the hour, stop and look around you. Look inside you. Find five things that are going right in your life right then.

My five, right now this minute? Baer (my 2 year old Shepherd-mix rescue pup) is lying quietly by my feet, happily asleep. The refrigerator is humming, as in working properly. The sun’s peeking out from behind the clouds. My laptop lets me endlessly revise, edit, delete, add. I’m smiling (I can’t help it, between the dog and the laptop, it’s automatic).

Not complicated. Nothing dramatic. It’s just paying attention to the nice things that happen in our day, and/or with ourselves. Do this every hour and by the end of your day, you’ll be flying high! Guaranteed.

If you’re where there are people around when you’re doing this, express your gratitude for whatever it is they are doing right directly to them, whether it’s with words, a smile, or just a look that says: “Wow, what you’re doing is terrific.”

And guess what? What you’ll be doing is pretty terrific.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Author's Bio: 

Noelle C. Nelson, Ph.D., is a psychologist, relationship expert, popular speaker in the U.S. and abroad, and author of nine best-selling books. Dr. Nelson focuses on how we can all enjoy happy, fulfilling lives while accomplishing great things in love, at home and at work, as we appreciate ourselves, our world and all others. Visit,,, @drnoellenelson