This thing about #3GoodThings

A while back I wrote a post called 3 Good Things. It was my first step to trying to help spread the message about positive psychology. Since then, I’ve wrote numerous blog posts about the field, and a range of techniques and considerations related to the topic. It’s something I’m actively interested in, and even lead to me delivering a workshop on how it can be applied to daily life.

Give the hashtag #3GoodThings a scan on Twitter and you’ll see just how people interact with the action, and what they write. It’s inspiring stuff and gives you a real sense of what is important to people. As you start to notice it happen on a day to day basis, you start to get a more complete picture of what is it that motivates that person, what is important to them, what they’ve reflected on, and the such like.

A good many more people use it now than I saw in the early days. I’d like to take some credit for that, so I will. But in the main, when I see how others have picked it up and use the action, it’s just bloody excellent to know people are finding ways to make it work for them. I’m not looking for anyone to pat me on the back here, it’s just very encouraging to see.

So where did it come from?

Martin Seligman is the founder of this particular path of psychology. As a psychotherapist, he found that people would often come to him wanting to relieve themselves from depression or feeling down. Therapy for them was useful, but he became frustrated at the limitation of just getting to feeling normal. He wanted people to come to him to feel genuinely positive about their lives. In psychology this is known as instead of moving from -5 to 0, from 0 to +5. He argued getting to this vibrancy state was achievable by everyone.

He set about researching ways to do this, and came up with a list of carefully crafted techniques which when done genuinely help raise the persons mood and feelings to a more positive state. One of these was to document at the end of the day 3 good things which helped them to feel good. He measured the state of a person before asking them, got them to do it over a period of time, and measured them at the end. He noticed significant changes in the persons stated feelings of happiness.

The important thing about this task is that it forces you to consider and reflect on what was important from the day for you. By articulating it, it becomes even more profound for you personally. This is because you have to be able to describe what it is about those things which make you feel positive. This reflection and action can help a person naturally improve their sense of positivity.

There are cynics who will look at this kind of action and say it’s just happy clappy nonsense. There are those who say you could write anything and no-one will know the difference. For those who share it in the social media space, there will be those who say it’s only being done for ‘brand management’. There are cynics in all walks of life who will always have something to say about such activities. I’m not concerned about them.

This type of activity is for those who genuinely want to feel more positive. It’s not restricted to those suffering mental illness, it’s for most normal folk who could do with doing meaningful activities that generate positivity.

I enjoy reading other people’s 3 good things, and am joyed to know in some way I helped to create something that others are engaging in and using purposefully. You may notice I do it few and far between. This is more because I tend to note them privately, and when I feel the need, I share it in the social media space.

>Being positive takes effort

>I write often about positive psychology and the very practical applications it offers to help people realise and understand how they can act differently if they wish to lead more ‘happier’ lives. Now, ‘happier’ is always a subjective term, and no-one can dictate to you, how happy you should be, this is a judgement you need to make for yourself. But, if you do wish to be happier, there are some very easy, very practical things you can go.

Before I launch into the different kinds of activity you should think about, let me stress this. This isn’t a one trick pony. In order to achieve a more positive state of mind, or be happier, it takes concerted effort, and you need a strong support network. Be that friends, family, work colleagues, or professional help, someone needs to help you on this journey. Without a support network this will be a truly difficult task.

Additionally, extensive research has been carried out into the tangible effects of acting in the ways listed below. The research shows positive changes in a person’s own sense of positivity over a period of time, how positive they are about others, and whether or not, the practices hold a lasting effect. I’ll not cite the various pieces of research as I’m in a rush. But, and I will hold my name to this, I would not be suggesting the things below, if I didn’t believe it.

I’ve written before about writing 3 good things at the end of the day. If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll see I try to do this, and you’ll also see how infrequently I do it. It’s a very easy thing to do for a short while. As a continued effort though, it does take practice before you remember to do it regularly. In honesty, I think about my #3goodthings most nights, I just don’t write it down. And that’s the hey part, because you’re articulating it rather than thinking it.

A gratitude visit is a very powerful way to raise your sense of positivity. This essentially entails you taking the time to visit one person and let them know why you’re thankful they’re part of your life. This doesn’t have to be a regular weekly or monthly activity, but it does need to happen at least once or twice over a long period of time. What this helps to do is raise your confidence in being able to appreciate those in your life, and expressing it in a way which is meaningful to both you and the receiver.

Act in small ways which are unselfish. It doesn’t take a lot to give someone the time of day, or to help answer a query. But in this busy world we fool ourselves into thinking that someone else will do it. Yes, maybe they will. But should that stop you from doing it too? No. There are few people I know who truly act without expectation of the same for them. And for that I will always hold them in high regard.

One of the most powerful ways to help you and others around you feel good, is by smiling. So much is associated with a genuine smile. This is pretty self-explanatory, but if you’re not one for doing this, have a look at those around you who do, and consider how much of an impact they have on those around them.

And that’s where I stop. Four things you can do to help raise your level of positivity and how you think about being happy.

>3 Good Things

>I’m a fan of positive psychology. It’s a wonderful field of study that has produced a lot of interesting results in helping people identify specific activities they can do to elevate their mood and help themselves maintain a positive state of mind.

The work was pioneered by a psychologist by the name of Martin Seligman. I’ve listened to him talk and he’s a wonderful person who is very warm and honest about the difficulties he has faced in his own life that have prompted his interest in this area. The work has mainly been accomplished and continues with people who suffer various modes of depression.

There are some very specific exercises that are encouraged which have generated marked improvements in general feelings of happiness. Seligman coined a term ‘authentic happiness’. I’m going to focus on one in particular method. It’s important to remember this is not a one trick pony. Nor is it the primary solution to relieving bad moods. It’s one method which is easy to do.

At the end of the day you should take the time to reflect on the day and remember 3 good things that have happened to you that day. That’s all you have to do. Write them down somewhere that you can keep a diary/log/blog. You’ll find that initially the things you write tend to be things like ‘the sun came out today’, or ‘had a good meal’. As you become more committed to it, you’ll find you write other things such as ‘helped a colleague solve a work problem’ or ‘had a good workout’ or ‘kept my anger in check today’. The important thing isn’t how deep or profound the good thing is, just that it provides a focus for thinking about good events rather than hanging on bad things.

On Twitter I’ll also start a twitter profile @3_GoodThings. Annoyingly @3GoodThings, @ThreeGoodThings and @3_Good_Things were all taken and none are being used well. If you like the idea of this, then please follow.

My intention here is to help people realise that being happy is always within our control, we just need to be conscious of how we do it.