How do you respond when your spouse, friend or family asks, “How was your day?” If you are like most people, it is all too easy to unload the various frustrations, injustices and wrongs you encountered. We tend to do this rather than highlight the good experiences from our day. Some term this the negativity bias. Put simply, it is our natural tendency to focus on the bad instead of the good. We do this at work, at home, with our children and so on.
To be honest, the negativity bias isn’t all bad. This natural bias helps us detect and avoid danger. However, when we become overly focused on the bad (i.e. pessimism) at the exclusion of the good, it can lead to a host of concerns:
- trouble sleeping
- lower life satisfaction
In Dr. Martin Seligman’s latest book, Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being, he wrote, “So to overcome our brains’ natural catastrophic bent, we need to work on and practice this skill of thinking about what went well.” Think about it. Most of us spend more time analyzing our mistakes and missteps than relishing our successes. Allow me to introduce you to one of the simplest, most powerful, scientifically validated skills that I teach people on a regular basis.
It is called Three Good Things. Each day, we should answer two basic questions:
- What are 3 things that went well?
- What caused that good thing to happen?
If you want to lessen your chances for depression, sleep better and increase your happiness and satisfaction in life, then make these two simple steps a daily practice.
Step 1: What went well today?
Write down Three Good Things that went well today. It doesn’t have to be something important (ie. I got a promotion at work). In fact, it very well may be something small (ie. My daughter climbed into my lap and said she loved me last night). The point is to write it down, document it. You can use a journal, pen and pad, whatever suites you.
Step 2: What is my reflection on what went well?
For each thing that went well, write a sentence or two about why that happened. Choose one of these questions to get you started:
- “Why did this good thing happen?”
- “What does this mean to you?”
- “How can you have more of this good thing in the future?”
It really is that simple. They key is to do it. Make it a habit. Make Three Good Things part of your daily routine.
My challenge to you is to practice this exercise for at least one week. Research shows you’ll experience benefits of doing so for up to 6 months! So, what do you have to lose? Or rather, what may you gain?
Question: What is one thing on your Three Good Things list today? I’d love to hear from you?
- Book: Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being by Martin E.P. Seligman
- Post: 3 Keys to Skyrocket Your Way To Repeated Successes