At 80, Dr. Martin Seligman, also known as the “father of Positive Psychology,” shows no sign of retiring anytime soon. After decades of conducting lectures and authoring bestselling books, his sharpness and passion for what he does are awe-inspiring.
Last Sunday, my grad school classmates and I had the privilege of “having lunch” with Dr. Seligman over Zoom, and for 60 minutes, he generously answered queries nonstop and shared tons of food for thought. It was always worth skipping my usual nap time during class. His energy is contagious and I could only wish I would live out the same passion and touch numerous lives in the coming years.
Touch lives, he surely does. And one simple yet impactful contribution he has made in my life is the Three Good Things.
The Three Good Things is an easy-to-do exercise that anyone can do daily before going to bed. It requires simply writing down three good things that happened to you during the day and why they happened. Keeping track of positive events, no matter how mundane they may seem, gets rid of negativity bias or our inclination to focus on the negative and helps create the habit of capturing positive moments in our lives.
Here’s a quick breakdown in case you want to try the exercise as we get into reflective mode next week:
1. Think of three good things that happened today, no matter how simple.
2. Write them down in a notebook or record them on your phone.
3. Take time to reflect on what happened and the possible reasons why (even just for 15-20 seconds).
Understanding “why” you consider something as a good thing happening in your life is crucial as it brings to your attention what sparks joy or positive emotions in you. Constantly keeping track of your preferences also creates self-awareness. Having a good grasp of what you want can make you work on getting more of it.
This exercise has been scientifically proven to create a positive impact on a person’s well-being by cultivating an attitude of gratitude and optimism. Try it for a week first and experience how things become second nature. You may eventually find yourself naturally spotting even beyond just three good things.