Three Good Things


This was Tom Peters’ opening question in a recent post explaining that 2011 has been a “punishing period” for many of us and 2012 promises more of the same.  He has been highlighting Resilience as a necessary “excellence” attribute in keeping up your spirits and your team’s spirits in challenging times.  Peters recently blogged about Flourish, the latest book by Martin Seligman.  Seligman is considered to be an expert in depression and happiness.  He has been described as the “Father of Positive Psychology”  and is the director of the Positive Psychology Center at University of Pennsylvania.

The “Losada” effect found that high performing teams had 3 times more positive thoughts than negative.  Seligman explains that to achieve higher levels of well being and happiness you should use positive psychology techniques including writing about your experiences in gratitude journals. One of the simple exercises that Seligman uses to build a positive mindset is called “Three Good Things.”

The “3 Good Things” exercise, also know as the “3 Blessings” exercise has been tested and it has been shown to increase well-being and decrease depression and anxiety.  (94% of very depressed people became less depressed and 92% became happier in 15 days and these outcomes were sustained for 6 months).

Each night before you go to sleep do the Three Good Things Exercise:

1. Think of three good things that happened today. (It can be anything as long as it is good, happy thing)
2. Write them down.
3. Reflect on why they happened. (You get to decide why)


  • “We have evolved to spend much more time thinking about negative experiences than positive ones. We spend a lot of time thinking about what has gone wrong and how to fix it, or how to do it differently next time. In the past there may have been an evolutionary advantage to this way of thinking, since it seems to be innate. However, for modern humans this negative bias is the source of a lot of anxiety, depression, and general lack of well-being.”
  • “…Optimists have a better response to repeated stress. Optimists take action and have healthier lifestyles. Optimists believe that their actions matter, whereas pessimists believe they are helpless and nothing they do will matter. Optimists try while pessimist lapse into passive helplessness.”
  • “This exercise will increase happiness and a sense of well-being.”


  • Note pad or Diary (paper based)
  • Apps (Diary Apps or apps such as  I’ve been using this simple email reminder tool and it works great.)

Interesting Side Note:

Martin Seligman went to his 50th school reunion and gave two pieces of advice to his former classmates:

  • Be future oriented, not dwell on the past, work for your ideals.
  • Exercise.



  1. richardkanigan says:

    Interesting. I like it for its simplicity. I have lost count on the many nights I have tossed and turned thinking about the issue that didn’t turn out to my satisfaction. This is worth a try!


  2. This is like a list…of a list…with a gymnastics doing stick-figure. Awesome. I love the idea of the Three Good Things exercises – it makes me happy…and how can you go to sleep angry if you do that every night.


    • HI Cassie. Thank you. Agree. The gymnast has actually lead to a number of interesting observations including your own. My intention (which was lost on most) was that she did 3 flips (tying to Three Good Things)! Happy New Year. Dave


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