Gratitude is good for us, both psychologically and psychologically. An attitude of gratitude has been linked to higher self-esteem, better relationships, and a stronger sense of resilience. And of course, gratitude just feels good.
While many of us theoretically know how good it is to be positive and feel grateful, it’s not always so easy. We tend to get bogged down by stress and focus on the negative. This is perfectly natural. In fact, some scientists have even speculated that it is hardwired into our brains (being especially sensitive to negative information may have ensured our survival as a species: it helped us stay away from harm and encouraged problem-solving).
So what to do?
The 3 Good Things Exercise is specifically designed to highlight the positive in your life. It’s simple, easy, and scientifically backed! It was co-created by Martin Seligman, one of the leading experts on positive psychology. When Seligman and his colleagues tested the exercise’s effectiveness, they found that it actually boosted participants’ happiness levels! The longer the participants did the exercise, the more their happiness levels rose (by the end of 6 months, participants experienced an overall 9% increase in happiness).
- Every night before you go to sleep, think of three good things that happened that day. Don’t worry about whether they’re big or small, anything positive counts. Maybe you caught up with a good friend or blew folks away with a work presentation: so long as you felt good about what happened.
- Write these things down. Don’t just think about them: writing is a vital step!
- When you’ve written them down, reflect on what exactly brought about these events and why they happened. Write the “why” down (For example, “My presentation went well because I worked hard and had support from my colleagues.”). When writing, use whatever language feels natural and easy: this exercise is for you and you alone.
- Do the exercise for one week and notice how you feel. Alternatively, you can also do the exercise once a week for six weeks. And you don’t have to stop there. Keep going as long as you like!
Why It Works
With this exercise, you’re slowly training yourself to notice everyday blessings that you might take for granted. By writing them down, you actively shift your attention towards the positive!
Turns out, feeling better doesn’t have to be very hard! All it takes is about 10 minutes every night. This evening, before you hit the sack, take a moment to list three good things.