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Health and Wellbeing

Try: Three good things

By Adrian 21 Jul 2022

Time required

This practice takes just 10 minutes. It’s most effective if you can try it regularly: once a day for a week or more. How about trying to do this every night before you go to bed?

How to do it

Write down three things that went well for you in the last 24 hours, and and explanation of why they went well. It is important to create a write them down; this is more helpful than simply doing the practice in your head. The items can be small, everyday events or more important milestones.

You could set aside a special notebook just for your daily three good things practice, or create a special folder in the notes app on your phone.

For each event:

  • Give it a title
  • Write as many details as you can remember about what happened and who said/did what
  • Include how the event made you feel at the time,a nd how you feel about it now
  • Explain why this event went well

The more detailed your writing, the more you will be able to savour the positive feelings associated with it. 

If you find yourself focusing on negative feelings, try to refocus your mind on the good event and the positive feelings that came with it.

Why you should try it

In our day-to-day lives, it's easy to get caught up in the things that go wrong and feel like we're living under our own private rain cloud; at the same time, we tend to adapt to the good things and people in our lives, taking them for granted. As a result, we often overlook everyday beauty and goodness—a kind gesture from a stranger, say, or the warmth of the sun on a chilly morning. In the process, we frequently miss opportunities for happiness and connection.

This practice can help counterbalance those tendencies. Although emotions like disappointment are natural and serve an important purpose, it can be draining to focus all our attention on them. By remembering and listing three positive things that happened in your day – and considering what caused them – you tune into the sources of goodness in your life. It's a habit that can change the emotional tone of your life, energizing you with positive feelings of gratitude – which may be why this practice is associated with significant increases in happiness.

By giving you the space to focus on the positive, this practice teaches you to notice, remember, and savor the better things in life. It may prompt you to pay closer attention to positive events down the road and engage in them more fully—both in the moment and later on, when you can reminisce and share these experiences with others. Reflecting on the cause of the event may help attune you to the deeper sources of goodness in your life, fostering a mindset of gratitude.

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Adrian is a medical doctor, the Student Health & Wellbeing Manager at the University of London and the Warden of Connaught Hall, where he has lived for almost 25 years.
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