Want To Be Happier? Do This One Simple Thing Every Day

3 good things

Note: To download the Three Good Things printable, looking for the yellow box with the pink button partway down the page!

Here on my blog, my mission has always been to share practical solutions to the everyday challenges of running a household. But based on my own experiences as a homemaker, I realize that those everyday challenges come in many shapes and sizes.

Sometimes the biggest challenges we face are those related to our own mental health. That’s why in today’s blog post, I want to share with you a simple, once-a-day writing exercise that can train your brain to seek out the positive, rather than dwell on the negative.

It’s called the “three good things” exercise, and yes, it was the name that caught my attention initially! :-) Let’s get started by exploring what the exercise is, how to do it, and how it can help you to become a happier and more resilient person.

3 good things

What Is The “Three Good Things” Exercise?

The “three good things” exercise is a simple tool you can use to practice gratitude and positivity. While the idea of “practicing” gratitude and positivity can seem a bit strange at first, an exercise like this can actually rewire your brain to seek out and amplify positive feelings and experiences.

The exercise was developed by Martin Seligman, a prominent psychologist who many consider to be “the father of Positive Psychology.” The field of Positive Psychology studies the characteristics and behaviors that allow people to flourish and live a meaningful life, and develops practices to help improve life satisfaction.

The “three good things” exercise is one such practice. In a 2005 study, Seligman and his colleagues found that participants who performed this exercise experienced lasting increased happiness. And since it’s such a simple exercise, what other motivation could you need to give it a try for yourself? :-)

How To Do The “Three Good Things” Exercise

3 good things

Step 1 – Reflect

Once a day, preferably in the evening sometime before bed, take a moment to reflect on the good things that you experienced during the day. It could be anything, from the most trivial (“I ate a delicious sandwich for lunch,”) to the most meaningful and significant (“My baby took her first steps!”).

3 good things

Step 2 – Write

Choose three good things you experienced that day and write them down, either using my free printable “three good things” tracker (download it below!), or in your favorite notebook or journal.

“Three Good Things” Printable Tracker

Download a PDF file of this free printable tracker, then use it to write down your “three good things” every day for a whole week!

Three good things to do in the month of January.

Download The “Three Good Things” PDF

If you’re not much of a pen-and-paper writer, you can always write your “three good things” down on your phone in your Notes app, or use the Journal app on your iPhone.

3 good things

Step 3 – Explain

Finally, next to each good thing you wrote down, provide a brief explanation of why that thing happened. (This step may feel a little strange at first, but it’s the most crucial part of the exercise, so stick with it!)

Next to the sandwich example, you might write “I took the time to pick the sandwich I thought would taste best because I knew it would make me happy.” And next to the example of your baby’s first steps, you could say, “She took her first steps because her confidence and strength are growing.”

3 good things

How The Exercise Works To Increase Happiness

While noticing and recognizing when good things happen is important, it’s the last step in this exercise that is actually the most important. When you attempt to explain why something good happened, you give yourself the opportunity to learn something new about yourself and the world around you.

Over time, the “three good things” exercise can help you to have gratitude for the good things that happened in the past, to enjoy the good things that are happening in the present, and to truly believe that good things will continue happening in the future. Gratitude, mindfulness, and hope—these are just a few characteristics of happy and satisfied people, and thanks to this simple exercise, anyone can develop and master them! :-)

3 good things

What’s one thing you would include in your list of “three good things” today?

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Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee


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  1. There is now a 3 Good Things app in the Google Play Store!

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  2. Great idea. My mom is always telling me I need to write stuff down before I forget. But I’ve never had a knack for writing like she does. Maybe something like this might give me the motivation I need . I agree with the earlier comments. I’m so grateful I didn’t live when some of my Ancestors did. I wouldn’t have survived their strenuous lifestyle. This idea kind reminds me of the Gratitude Journal trend that was popular several years ago.

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  3. In a book by Catherine Ryan Hyde (I’m 99 percent certain), one of the characters would make it a point, at the end of each day, to go outside, look up to the sky and simply say, “Thank you for my life,” out loud. I adopted this practice, along with my gratitude journal, and even though some days were so bad I had to force the words through my lips, I said them. It radically changed my life. I would add this simple, though not easy, exercise along with the gratitude journal to return to or continue in a life full of courage, joy, love and thankfulness.

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  4. One really good thing you personally could do is encourage your thousands of readers to examine their conscience with regard to race relations in your country. I’m quite shocked that you haven’t. I’m white, blonde and freckled, and grew up with racism, and let me tell you, it is awful. I grew up in a tiny Mediterranean island that was a British colony. The British left in 1979 when I was 17. The Brits called us wogs, natives and other nice names designed to make us feel inferior. Public entities had separate toilets for locals and Brits. They had all the best land, all the best beaches, and kept us natives out.
    Do your bit, Jillie, like so many other Americans are.

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    • I’m glad she isn’t. I see so many companies suddenly proclaiming to be so racially aware and suddenly donating money and it comes across as nothing more than doing the in thing, the PC thing no matter what the companies leaders may truly believe. I totally agree racism is wrong – and so is violence and destroying property does nothing to make me respect those people. Martin Luther King I respect a great deal and totally support his message. I’d rather just do business with companies that provide good service no matter the skin color of the owner.

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      • Ann, well said, and thank you

  5. I’m not much of a journaler but you have encouraged me in a positive way to become one! Thanks Jillee for this suggestion!

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  6. Excellent idea! On a related note, I read a book by Debbie Macomber, One Simple Act. This book reinforces the idea of journaling and thankfulness and gratitude. Thanks because we all need happiness now.

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