One of my favorite exercises is simple, yet so effective.
The week my Positive Psychology course talked about Gratitude, we were asked to do one small thing before sleeping each night.
Write down, or calmly mentally reflect on three good things that happened to you today.
Some may be obvious: The other day, my favorite fruit and vegetable vendor gave me some fresh basil and parsley as a present, along with a huge smile – needless to say, it brightened my day tremendously. But most days, nothing may stick out so much. This is the true nature of growing gratitude – appreciating things that you may have previously overlooked.
An example list could be:
– I am proud of cooking myself a healthy, delicious lunch
– The sun shone all afternoon
– I had a great conversation with a good friend this evening
Some days that are a little rough may include moments like “I DIDN’T trip over the ledge I always nearly twist my ankle over”, or “My boss was slightly nicer than usual”. While these may not be glamorous, you are still taking time to recognize moments that were more positive than usual, and it is surprising how pleasant that is, despite their inherently more difficult nature.
As you practice reflecting on the moments you were grateful for each day, you will notice that suddenly, three spots are not enough. As you think about what you are thankful for, you will realize that many moments pile up, that there was beauty and joy in a lot more of the day than you may have consciously noted. This is wonderful, and I encourage you to acknowledge all the good moments you can think of each day, while still picking three to reflect on a little more deeply. This will allow you to create a depth of understanding and gratitude that builds a bridge across your day.
The beautiful thing is that you will start noticing the good moments as they happen, not just at the end of the day. This grows consistent gratitude and happiness throughout your daily life.
I further encourage you not to share your daily three with anybody else. It is very important to consistently share gratitude, say thank you and acknowledge the people who have helped you, mentally note your appreciation for someone or something. However, in this solitary reflection of the day, it is more powerful if you keep your reflections inside you. They are so positive and personal, yet we often overlook them, or mention them more in a way to show than to really feel them. I hope this practice becomes a habit for you, something you look forward to.
In fact, as someone who rarely sleeps and has a hard time relaxing, I found that practicing the “3 Good Things” really eased my mind and helped get in the mindset of a restful night. Keeping the positive in you while you wind down the day helps you acknowledge the day that passed, while waking up with positive thoughts to start the new day.
Try it for a week and see how you feel!
Love and appreciation,