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About the Top Five Movement

1. Getting up early and going for a walk before work
2. Crossing paths with my housemate Sarah for dinner who I hadn’t seen for a few days
3. Receiving a random ‘I love you’ text from my mum
4. Finding a tram ticket*
5. Hearing a new ‘dad’ joke from my dad.
* (I live in Melbourne so free tram tickets are handy!)

Know what this list is?

It’s a round up of the top five moments of my day on June 2nd, 2011. I’ve captured over 2000 of these lists, totalling more than 10,000 memories and dating all the way back to December 2006. The process of recording my ‘Top Five’ each day has absolutely changed my life – and the lives of thousands of others… Here’s how it all began:

In 2006, I stumbled across a tiny article in a magazine.

It was just a short one – a quick rundown of tips that could help you live a happier life. One of them caught my eye: write down your happiest moments of each day. That was it – I don’t even remember now whether it specified how many you should record, just that the act of writing them down was important.

I had flirted with keeping a diary before, but the habit had never stuck. Looking back, I think maybe it was a little too vague and intangible? Or took too much effort? I’m not sure. But for whatever reason, this notion of writing down the best moments in my day struck a deep chord – it was practical, it was finite, and it wouldn’t take too long (so could easily fit into my already-busy schedule). I soon learned that many leaders of the self-empowerment world (like Oprah and Martin Seligman) had been praising the power of gratitude journaling and other similar habits for years, so I was pumped to have stumbled across such a powerful practice.

I immediately decided I was going to write down five things that had been awesome about my day.

I also decided that I was going to do it every day. And so I did.

I wrote them in dedicated notebooks at first, as a note the notes on my phone. (Along the way, there’s also been napkins, torn-out bits of paper, the backs of receipts, the margins of important work papers – whoops! – and too many Post-It notes to count.)

And that could have been the end of the story , a girl with lots of happy memories recorded on random scraps of paper. But it’s not.

See, I started noticing that my practice of looking for the high points in my day was making a difference in my life: I was happier. Calmer. Less stressed. I had more perspective, more energy, and was able to face challenges with more optimism.

In short, my little daily habit was making me a better person. In fact, other people were commenting on my positive attitude all the time. And I knew I wanted to share my story – and this powerful practice – with others.

I started to tell friends about the Top Five. Some started their own. Some would tease me about it (if I made a cheesy joke, they’d ask if I would write it down on that day’s list… I probably did!). Others thought it sounded like a nice thing to do. Years passed, and my collection of Top Fives built up. People started to ask what will I do with them all? Will I write a book? Start a blog? I wasn’t sure, but knew I was onto something.

The Movement Begins…

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In 2011, I became a Centre for Sustainability Leadership fellow. Part of this course was a speech writing retreat. I had to write and deliver a speech to 50 peers – all highly successful in their fields and passionate about sustainability. They were all talking on topics like biodiversity, carbon credits and vegetarianism… while I was lost on what to present.

After much wondering and pondering (and no small amount of fear) I built up enough courage to bring my very simple daily habit to the floor. It was the first time I’d taken the Top Five message beyond my own notebook and personal routine. But as I worked on the speech, and reflected on everything I’d learned over the preceding years, it all fused into a simple, powerful message: here was an opportunity to contribute to a more sustainable world.

I drew on science, which had shown that this type of gratitude practice has SO MANY wonderful side effects (including increased energy, life satisfaction, and physical fitness; more meaningful connections and relationships; less stress, loneliness, and anxiety; and an increased ability to overcome challenges).

I presented the group with a potent idea: What would the world look like if everyone became more grateful, energetic and connected by capturing their own daily Top Five? Would it be a world without pain, suffering or loneliness? A world where kindness and generosity were our default settings? A world where one simple act could ensure that no one lived in need? The possibilities seemed endless, and I was overwhelmed by the feedback I received.

I went on to share the speech on the TEDx stage, where it’s since been viewed and shared thousands of times by individuals and on the big screen at events.

I’ve also delivered this message in numerous other settings as well, including here on this very blog.

I created this space as an online home for the Top Five movement – a corner of the world where we can share ideas, tools and strategies to help you access more energy, optimism, generosity and kindness. It’s all about practical, positive steps and empowering habits that can contribute to big shifts.

I truly believe that this one simple practice can help you uplift and uplevel your life – and change the whole world in the process.

… And friend, I’d love you to have you on board for the ride.

“A daily Top Five doesn’t take long. In our lives we don’t often sit down to reflect to be thoughtful, to be at peace and to be grateful and the Top Five is an easy and fantastic tool that allows you a small window of time to do this and trust me it is worth it”

Gina Lopez, Director and Co – Founder of One Million Acts of Innovation Australia

“Writing my Top Five helped me to see that the daily ‘bump and grind’ was what it was, but it was the positive things that I highlighted everyday in my very own Top Five that captured my attention and changed my mindset. It made me believe that I could do anything I put my mind too, if I just thought positively things would come my way. And it did.”

Catherine Lynch

“My husband and I do Top Five daily as we walk around the block. It is so awesome and we are both hooked. I am finding out so much about his day that would have otherwise remained hidden.”

Melanie Gibson

Ready to start your own Top Five habit and join the movement?

Research shows that those who practice gratitude live longer, and are healthier, happier, more confident, less lonely, more relaxed, more creative, bounce back from hard times quicker, have improved emotional balance and sleep better. (That’s a boatload of benefits from one tiny little habit, right?!)

So grab yourself a pen and get started NOW by writing down five positive things about your day. If you do, not only will you be doing something great for yourself, you’ll also be changing the world… one little list at a time.

To help you get started…

  1. Sign up for my regular so-useful-you’ll-thank-me emails. I am all over the best and brightest developments in the world of positivity and self development. So let me do the sorting for you and bring you only the most effective tools and tips to help you live longer, be healthier, happier, more confident, less lonely, more relaxed, more creative, help you bounce back from hard times quicker, experience improved emotional balance and even sleep better.
  2. Get your hands on a pack of Top Five Movement Question Cards to prime yourself for positivity and start experiencing the incredible benefits of this powerful practice.
  3. Share the Top Five at your event: if you’re looking for a speaker to take your event from so-so to seriously extraordinary, I’ve got you covered.
  4. Share the Top Five through your publication, blog, podcast, newsletter: Check out my media page for all the important details (including how to get in touch!).

What others are saying…

“It’s amazing when you do your daily Top Fives how good things snowball”

Michelle Smith

“Making a daily list of Top Five positive things is such a simple yet effective tool for building personal resilience. Something with is really important in today’s challenging and changing work environment”

nathan kelly

“Since writing a Top Five I now go to bed buzzing with excitement instead of worrying about what I didn’t do or need to do tomorrow”

Astrid Jordan

The Top Five Movement + Education:

“I have listened to a lot of TED talks and Clare’s Top Five Movement talk is one of my favourites. I have recommended it to teachers I work with.”

Hugh van Cuylenburg, Founding Director, The Resilience Project

The Top Five Movement + New Habits:

“The Top Five is inspiring stuff. This is something that I’d like to get into the habit of. I’m from a long line of ‘Negative Nancys,’ and I’d like to break that.”

Richard R

The Top Five Movement + Kindness:

“If it gets to three PM and I can only think of a couple of top fives, I will go and do something, give someone a compliment or make a joke. I love that the top five is so powerful it can even break a 3pm energy slump! Top Fives have made me a better person”

Brooke Wilson

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