“Do you have a WAIT problem? Are you waiting to be happy?” ~Dr. Robert Holden~
The goal of “Laughter Happiness and Bliss” is to provide tools and practices that will help you unlock the secrets to lasting happiness. This particular practice is called the “Three Blessings” or the “What-Went-Well Exercise,” by the author of “Flourish” and father of positive psychology, Martin E. P. Seligman.
Because we have a natural inclination to focus on the negative instead of the positive aspects of our lives, there’s a real need for a way to counter balance our evolutionary preprograming.
As I’ve noted before, there are sound reasons that this bias evolved, but, like the “flight or fight response,” they don’t serve us efficiently anymore. The chronic activation of the “flight or fight response,” to normal everyday activities, like being caught in a traffic jam or putting up with a rude comments from someone, has created an epidemic of stress related diseases.
Add to these stresses a cloudy undercurrent of dissatisfaction and mental anxiety; it’s easy to understand our need for practice exercises like the “Three Blessings.”
At the risk of sounding redundant, and as always, it is an exercise that requires practice, because the benefit from reading about it ends at the end of this article.
Here’s the Practice
For the next week, before you go to bed, give yourself a gift of ten to fifteen minutes. (If you really want to receive lasting benefits try to extend the practice for 21 days.)
During your “special time” write down three things that went well for you today and why they went well.
You can write them down on a legal pad, a personal journal (which is my preference, as it makes it tactile, a real ritual which feels special) or on your computer.
The important thing is to have a written record of your experiences, a personal point of reference.
Your “three things” needn’t be life changing or monumental events. The little things count. For example, “My husband called at lunch just to see how I was doing,” or “My best friend called to invite me to their daughter’s wedding.”
Then after each positive event you’ve noted and written down, ask and answer the question, “Why did this happen?” For example, when you wrote that your husband called you for no reason, your answer might be “Because my husband is so considerate sometimes, and he loves me,” or “I put a note in his lunch and suggested that calling me would be a nice thing to do.” If you wrote about being invited to your best friend’s wedding you could answer, “Because I’m so blessed to have such a wonderful friend,” or “My Best friend makes my world go around.”
Be gentle with yourself because in the beginning the practice may make you self-conscious or uncomfortable and feel a little awkward.
Have patience and stay with it for at least a week and it will get easier. There is real evidence which indacates you will soon begin to feel less depressed and anxious and more at ease, happier with a greater sense of wellbeing.
Odds are that if you keep it up for a week or more that you will become a “Three Blessings addict.” The practice is that powerful.