We now know that when we can activate a positive emotion deliberately it has just as much power as when it happens spontaneously. Positive emotions produce the chemistry of calm, the chemistry of joy, the chemistry of healing inside our bodies. I get excited when I think that I can deliberately cause myself well being, and through a series of habits or practices rev up my immune system, broaden and expand my creativity, an improve my memory and I don’t have to purchase a single vitamin to do it!
When I first started studying Positive Psychology I learned one of Marty Seligman’s favorite “evidence based” exercises called “Three Blessings and Why”. I was one of his coaching students we were to do the exercise every night before bed and to leave our selves thinking about something that had blessed our day and why it happened. We were to report back results to our learning “pods” and discuss results and benefits of doing it. The evidence on this exercise tells us that inside of just a few weeks of this practice (and sometime within a few days) happiness levels get and stay elevated as reported by the people doing the exercise.
Going to gratitude and appreciation changes our “vibes” and our heart rate variability. Sitting for just a few moments in these high vibration emotions sink us into our hearts and help us find coherence in all our organs as we align to the higher and healthier vibration. When we do this practice at night we are reviewing the day and looking at the goodness that occured that day and focusing our attention on it – even adding some detail. This creates new neural pathways in the brain and makes it easier to feel positive emotion in the future.
So check out this easy practice and make a commitment to try it for 2 weeks. (I changed the name slightly when I began using it in work situations.) In the office I call it the “Three Good Things and Why” Exercise.
At the end of each day, stop for a few moments and reflect on your day. Sort through all the positive things that have happened. Choose three good things that happened, write them down and ask yourself “Why.” You’ll discover interesting things about what makes you happy. As you continue the practice you may wish to amplify the goodness by reflecting on it for a few moments and jotting down those thoughts as well.
You can share the things you’ve written or keep them to yourself. You can do it at the end of your workday AND right before bed if you’d like. You can do it at dinner with the family. You can share it with friends . It has been proven that consistently doing this exercise WILL raise your level of happiness.
Right now, let’s stop and think about the last 24 hours, do a quick review of all the good things that happened, and reflect on why. Jot them down.
TIP: You can do a business version of this by asking the same question at a meeting. Ask everyone to list 3 Good Things that happened at work and why. It will teach you a lot about building and sustaining a positive workplace. And it will teach you a lot about your team mates.