Today’s Positive Psychology Exercise: Three Good Things
Many people have a tendency to focus on negative experiences. In positive psychology, we often say “bad is stronger than good.” For example, the positive emotion that someone feels if they find an unexpected $20 is usually less intense than the negative emotion that someone feels if they lose $20.
The Three Good Things exercise, also referred to as Three Blessings, is an activity designed to focus your attention on positive experiences. The activity is simple: at the end of the day, write down three things that went well. These can be anything – from the small and ordinary to great and important. After you write down your three good things, write down why you think each good thing happened.
Emmons, R. A. & McCullough, M. E. (2003). Counting blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 84(2), 377-389.
Direct link to full-text PDF: https://whish.stanford.edu/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/GratitudeArticle.pdf
Abstract: The effect of a grateful outlook on psychological and physical well-being was examined. In Studies 1 and 2, participants were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 experimental conditions (hassles, gratitude listing, and either neutral life events or social comparison); they then kept weekly (Study 1) or daily (Study 2) records of their moods, coping behaviors, health behaviors, physical symptoms, and overall life appraisals. In a 3rd study, persons with neuromuscular disease were randomly assigned to either the gratitude condition or to a control condition. The gratitude-outlook groups exhibited heightened well-being across several, though not all, of the outcome measures across the 3 studies, relative to the comparison groups. The effect on positive affect appeared to be the most robust finding. Results suggest that a conscious focus on blessings may have emotional and interpersonal benefits.