The benefits of feeling grateful have been studied and researched for many years with positive results. Gratitude leads to a happier and healthier life. However, most of us are still not practicing gratitude! Instead of focusing on what goes well, we tend to look at the dark side. We, humans, are ungrateful pieces of dog-poo and we definitely need some sort of intervention.
Okay, I’m a psychologist wannabe if you haven’t realized that already. I read so much psychology books and watch so many videos I think I kinda fried my brain a little. Anyway, I’m recently very much into positive psychology. Yes, I know it has been around so I’m late to the party but hey, better late than never.
This is my unsolicited advice (backed by real psychologists) for those who are not feeling as happy as you think you should. Practice gratitude! It’s not a feeling that you can just conjure up but the good news is…we do have an exercise that works effectively in channeling your feeling of gratitude (again, it’s backed by the science of psychology.) This exercise is called 3 Good Things.
How 3 Good Things Exercise Works
Here’s what you do on a daily basis before bedtime:
- Before you go to bed, have your gratitude journal or notebook ready. If you prefer typing into an app, see the Resource Section after this post for apps recommendation.
- Reflect your day and think of 3 things that went well for you during the day.
- Write them down and elaborate on why it went well and how it made you feel. Moreover, if you want to, you can even get creative and draw a little.
It’s that simple! Also, it doesn’t have to be a grand thing like winning a trophy or getting promoted. For me, being able to poop daily is a great achievement. I thank my digestive system for that…and eating well of course.
How it Can Help You
This simple exercise is extremely powerful in helping us feel a little bit more grateful on a daily basis, which ultimately leads to an increased level of happiness. In order to do this successfully, you need to be consistent.
- Writing and recording events of the day helps you trigger your memory and reflect.
- Reflecting on the day helps you relive the day by engaging your senses. As a result, you’re now consciously thinking and you may even discover things you weren’t aware of it earlier.
- By getting you to focus on what went well, you’re forced to find the slightest good things even on a bad day. It’s shifting your thinking from a glass-half-empty to a glass-half-full, effectively pulling you away from the dark side to the bright side.
- Doing this every day will turn this into a habit. Imagine feeling grateful and appreciative of the good things in our lives on a daily basis. Mind*blown!
- Science (links below) says it helps, so just bloody do it okay?
A Few Helpful Prompts to Get Started
This exercise may sound easy but it can be quite challenging. I almost bang my head against the wall a couple of times because I just couldn’t do it. Then I realize that this “gratitude block” is no different from my usual creative blocks. So, I came up with some useful prompts to help me juggle my memory.
- Did something funny happen?
- Did you have a heartfelt conversation with your loved ones?
- Did you have a useful discussion on your work or projects with your boss or colleagues?
- Did you create an art/ bake something new/ cook something delicious/ compose a new song/ learn something/ do nothing and meditate today?
- Did you get a call or a letter from someone that makes you smile?
- Did you manage to make progress on your project(s)/ thesis/ book, etc?
- What are the nice things or compliments people give you today?
- What is the one inspiring movie you watch today?
- What gifts did you receive today?
- What is the one kind or helpful act you did today?
- What are the nicest songs played on Spotify today?
- What are the beautiful things you saw today? Flowers? Puppies? My picture? Okay, just kidding on the last one.
On Day 2 when I only managed to write down 1 good thing while struggling for the rest, I had the realization that it could be easier for me on the following days if…
I make good things happen instead of waiting for it to happen!
This is the BEST and MOST important thing that I realize from doing this 3 Good Things exercise. So, look back at the prompts and think of what you can do to make those good events happen! You can create your own prompts as well. Be proactive and take control of your daily happiness.
3 Good Things Apps
- Three Good Things – A Happiness Journal by Asher Dale | Download at Appstore)
- Three Good Things: Simple gratitude journal! by Plum Studio Inc. | Download at Appstore or GooglePlay
- Seligman, M.E.P., Steen, T.A., Park, N., Peterson, C. (2005). Positive psychology progress: Empirical validation of interventions. American Psychologist, 60, 410- 421.
- Fleming, Andrew W. (2006), Positive Psychology “Three Good Things in Life” and Measuring Happiness, Positive and Negative Affectivity, Optimism/Hope, and Well-Being. Counselor Education Master’s Theses. 32.
- Lai, Siew Tim. (2017). ‘The Three Good Things’ – The effects of gratitude practice on wellbeing: A randomised controlled trial. Health Psychology Update. 26. 10.
Recommended Online Courses on Happiness and Positive Psychology:
- Positive Psychology: Martin E. P. Seligman’s Visionary Science by University of Pennsylvania (taught by Martin E.P. Seligman)
- The Science of Well-Being by Yale University (taught by Laurie Santos)