This happiness-boosting exercise might seem too simple, but “Three Good Things” has been found to be extremely powerful in increasing your daily levels of happiness. And remember, though the activity seems simple, doing it diligently is actually not.
Take up the challenge.
Shortest Guide To Three Good Things
Basically, it is a gratitude exercise that you inculcate as a habit. Here’s the simple Three Good Things exercise:
- Every night, just before you go to bed, sit down for a while and look back at your day.
- Then think of 3 things that went well for you during the day.
- Write them down. Reflect and brood upon each of them.
That’s all there is to it.
Important rules: Writing. Reflecting.
The Three Good Things don’t have to be grand to be counted, such as winning a state championship, grabbing a promotion to-kill-for, or getting engaged to your long-lost-found-again love. Or even finding the marriage heaven, whatever that means. Or something as earthshaking as escaping a prison sentence, though that counts. Just 3 simple good things would be enough.
Initially, it may take quite a long to think up three good things. Eventually, however, you will start to see the small good things in your life that light up like tiny sparkles.
There are 3 conditions for this happiness exercise:
- Writing down – it is vital as it helps you to focus on the events in a structured way.
- Reflecting on what you did – is essential as it adds to your sense of perceived control and well-being.
- Timing is significant: either do it everyday for one week, or try it once a week for six weeks.
Happiness Benefits of Three Good Things
As Martin Seligman, fondly referred to as the Father of Modern Positive Psychology, author of the groundbreaking book, Flourish, says, “For sound evolutionary reasons, most of us are not nearly as good at dwelling on good events as we are at analyzing bad events. Those of our ancestors who spent a lot of time basking in the sunshine of good events, when they should have been preparing for disaster, did not survive the Ice Age. So to overcome our brains’ natural catastrophic bent, we need to work on and practice this skill of thinking about what went well.”
“Three Good Things” is one of the most powerful positive psychology techniques to raise your happiness levels.
This was investigated by Sheldon and Lyubomirsky in 2004, and by Martin Seligman and others in 2005. After just one week, the participants were 2% happier. But the magic started here onward. The researchers followed up the study participants, and checked their happiness levels over time. Interestingly, they were getting happier by the week. Their happiness levels rose to 5% at one month, and to 9% by six months.
To sum up, Professor Sonja Lyubomirsky, one of the first modern positive psychologists, and author of the immensely popular The How of Happiness says, “As we expected, our simple exercise was effective in producing higher levels of thankfulness and appreciation. More important, those participants who counted their blessings on a regular basis became happier as a result.
“Compared with a control group (i.e., people who did not practice any kind of exercise), the gratitude group reported significantly bigger increases in their happiness levels from before to after the intervention.
“Interestingly, this effect was observed only for those who expressed gratitude every Sunday night.”
- Words of Gratitude: For Mind, Body and Soul by Robert A. Emmons, Joanna Hill
- Thanks! How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier by Robert A. Emmons
- Gratitude Works! A 21-Day Program for Creating Emotional Prosperity by Robert A. Emmons
Here’s a short video on the Three Good Things Exercise by Dr Martin Seligman, Father of Modern Positive Psychology:
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