The One Simple Practice to Increase Your Happiness
“Three Good Things”
Write down three good things from your day.
For three weeks.
Really? That’s it?
Yes. It sounds easy. It might sound superficial. You’re probably thinking, ‘My day was fine. Why should I bother writing things down?’
Don’t be fooled.
Martin Seligman, who’s known as the father of ‘positive psychology,’ came up with this practice. It’s been scientifically shown to act as a counter-balance to our brains’ negativity bias. People who practice ‘Three Good Things’ report more happiness and a sense of well-being. Who doesn’t want more of that? Remember, we get what we focus on.
Here’s the deal: it’s not as easy as you think. We tend to discount or even take for granted the good things that happen during our day. I was literally driving home the other night from the gym, and it hit me ‘I felt happy!’ I’d survived my workout, I felt good about sticking to a clean eating plan, and I’d had a great coaching session with a client during the afternoon. I felt ‘lighter’ and optimistic. And I stopped to actively acknowledge what was making me feel happy. (And then, I needed to write it down when I got home).
Commit to the practice.
Starting a new practice is hard. If we’re not committed, we forget or blow it off and say, ‘I’ll do it tomorrow.’ Make up your mind to do it and stick to it. It gets easier as you go along, and you’ll be able to notice your three good things more easily.
What to do:
- At the end of your day (and it’s easier if you choose the same time (maybe right before bed, or if you’re relaxing after dinner), think about three good things about your day.
- Write them down.
- Reflect on “why” each good thing happened. This is key, according to Seligman. If I was reflecting on why I felt so happy while coming home from the gym, it would be because I had done it. I committed to my workout and followed through instead of using my normal excuse that ‘work’ was more important. Reflecting on the why is an important part of the practice.
- Acknowledge how the good thing made you feel. If we recall that feeling of happiness, or satisfaction or well-being, we’re able to more easily call up those feelings in the future. It’s like anything else – we get better with practice.
Greater awareness of the good in your life.
Expanded ability to focus.
Noticing WHAT makes you happy. (Positivity triggers)!
Sense of well-being.
Now, start noticing the good things in your life. You might also start to notice, you can come up with more than three!