WARNING: Don’t be deceived by the apparent simplicity of this practice. It holds more challenge than you might suspect. And it produces some potent benefits and results.
Every day for the next three weeks write down three good things the day held for you.
That’s it. The whole thing.
It doesn’t sound very sexy. It sounds superficial and glib, like a throw-away sentence from a hackneyed self-improvement book. Again I say: Do not be deceived.
It’s easy to dismiss. “I already know my day was fine,” you say. “Why bother writing things down. This is silly.”
Over and over again in the posts at PLN you’re going to hear me warn you about the four most dangerous words in the English language: “I already know that.” The fact is, unless you have practiced Three Good Things previously, you have no idea of its potential power. It measurably improves the sense of well-being even in the clinically depressed. If your starting point is higher than that, you’ll get even more of a boost from it.
It’s not as easy to do as you might think. We tend to gloss over and take for granted the positive moments of our days. The positive emotions are fragile and fleeting. Like thoughts, after they have floated past, we tend not to remember them. Be prepared to feel a bit stumped, and even frustrated, when you begin this practice. It’s normal. Just make up your mind ahead of time that you will do it anyway.
For some help in getting started, see: Scavenger Hunting for Positivity Souvenirs: 50 Good Things to Collect on Your Travels.
By the way, it not only gets easier, but it becomes a lot of fun as you go along. Remember, what we focus on expands in our experience. By the second week, you may find yourself waking up wondering what good things will end up on your list today.
Installing a new daily routine takes effort. Whether it’s starting a new exercise routine or diet, a new job, or learning a new skill, in the beginning everything takes effort. Make up your mind to make the commitment to it, and let it be a challenge and fun. Think of it as more of a game you’re playing with yourself, a scavenger hunt for positive experiences, rather than as a chore.
The Pay Off
- Enhanced self-awareness (And Self-Liking!)
- Exercise of your ability to focus
- Increased skill in noticing (An essential for building greater positivity)
- Insight into your personal positivity triggers (Wow! This turns me On!)
- Greater enjoyment of your life as you increasing tune your attention to things that make you feel good (It’s FUN!)
- Increased awareness of how much goes right in your day
- A collection of positive memories to savor at day’s end (Mmm! Bedtime Treats!)
- Something new to talk about over dinner (Awww. Giggles. Appreciation. Closeness.)
- And, in retrospect, a way to see the areas of your life where you tend to put your attention and to consider whether you want to make any changes. (More Joy in More Places!)
- Make a firm commitment to yourself to do the practice. Do it for fun, or just to see if you can, or because you want to test it to see what kind of results it produces for you. But make the conscious and committed decision.
- Get yourself a butterfly net to catch your good things as soon as you spot one. (Before they flit away!) If you have a pen and paper handy, jot it down. Or text yourself a message. If you can’t physically record it somewhere, make a strong mental note of it by creating a memorable mental image of it or by giving it a label of some kind. Noting good things as they occur throughout the day is much, much easier than trying to recall them at day’s end, believe me!
- Set aside a regular time for recording your three good things each day and designate where you will keep your lists. Make a new folder on your computer labeled “Positivity Practices” and a file called “Three Good Things.” If you prefer to write by hand, get yourself a new notebook or a place where you can keep your daily notes together and organized.
- If it appeals to you, consider making the practice a ritual. Buy a special journal for collecting your daily lists. Play relaxing music as your write, maybe light a couple candles. Let your daily review be a kind of meditation, an exercise in savoring.
- Reward yourself for your daily completion by checking off the date on a calendar. You might like the free, fun, progress tracking calendar at Don’tBreaktheChain.com
- If you miss a day, just continue the following day. It’s okay.
- Share the practice with a partner, or friend, or your whole immediate family. Make a date to share your lists on a daily or weekly basis.
- Share your experiences with other PLN readers by commenting on this post. Bookmark it, or look for it in the Positive Practices archives and add your questions or comments as you work the practice.
- Oh, and it’s okay to write more than three if you can’t decide which of many good things to choose. But don’t settle for less than three. And I suggest you try to limit yourself to no more than five or six when an especially great day comes along.
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That’s it. Make the commitment and get started.
Next week, you’ll find a different practice to add to your repertoire. So get a good start on Three Good Things right now. And, hey! Have fun!