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, and takes just around 3 minutes of your day, doing it diligently is actually not.
Take up the challenge – we urge you.
Shortest Guide To Three Good Things
Basically, it is a gratitude exercise you inculcate as a daily 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.Think of 3 Things That Went Well for you during the day. See your happiness rise. Click To Tweet
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.
A Few Helpful Examples
Here are five themes you could explore in your Three Good Things journal:
- What one way you made the most meaningful use of your time today?
- What one good thing happened at your work/school/college today?
- What one useful support you had from your relationships today?
- What one good act of generosity or kindness you did today?
- What one thing brought a smile to your heart today?
A few examples you could write down could be these:
A great feeling of love you felt when someone checked to find out how were you doing. It could be a token of appreciation someone gave you at your work. It could be a shared time of talk and laughter at dinner-time with your family.
It could be a useful discussion you had with someone – your children, your parents, your spouse, your friends. It could be a joyful moment when you stopped to see a fabulous flower in full bloom, or a few cute puppies playing in abandon.
It could be a great feeling you got after spending some “me-time” taking care of yourself.
Don’t limit yourself to these. Explore your own possibilities.
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.”To overcome our brains’ negative bent, we need to practice thinking about what went well. Click To Tweet
“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.”The Three Good Things exercise have been found to increase happiness and decrease depression for up to 6 months. Click To Tweet
3 Books On Gratitude
- Words of Gratitude by Robert A. Emmons, Joanna Hill
- Thanks! by Robert A. Emmons
- Gratitude Works! 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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Author Bio: Sandip Roy is psychology writer, happiness researcher, and medical doctor. Founder of Happiness India Project, and chief editor of its blog. He writes popular-science articles on positive psychology and related topics.
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