Research shows that we spend far more time thinking about how we can correct something that has gone wrong, or is about to go wrong, instead of basking in what has gone right. There may have been an evolutionary advantage to analyzing bad events more thoroughly, but this minimizes your life satisfaction and it maximizes anxiety and depression. The Seeing the Good Stuff Exercise improves well-being by a simple method of redirecting attention towards positive thoughts and away from negative thoughts and sweetens your memories about the past. Research shows that becoming more conscious of good events reliably increases your happiness and decreases depression. Noticing and analyzing what goes well in our lives builds the skills of remembering good events and not taking them for granted. It builds gratitude as well. Analyzing why events go well encourages a consciousness of blessings and molds an explanatory style that promotes optimism about the future. The exercise has also been shown to improve sleep, health and relationships for those who did it for one week, up to 6 months later.
Spend a few minutes each night right before you go to bed to recall and write down three good things that happened today. These things can be anything that went well, both big (like you ran a successful event) or small (a co-worker brought you coffee). It is important to write down why that good thing happened to you and specifically you.
It can be used in an anticipatory manner at the beginning of the day if you frame it as “What I’m looking forward to…” In addition, it can be used for parents with their children at the dinner table or before bedtime to focus on ‘what went well’ during the day.
Do this faithfully for two weeks, and you will discover a shift in the way you go through your day and the things that you choose to notice and amplify in the future.
Positive event 1: What good stuff happened today and why did it happen to me? What can I do to get more of this good thing? What does it mean to me?
Positive event 2: What good stuff happened today and why did it happen to me? What can I do to get more of this good thing? What does it mean to me?
Positive event 3: What good stuff happened today and why did it happen to me? What can I do to get more of this good thing? What does it mean to me?
(Source: Dr. Martin Seligman; www.authentichappiness.com)