Good Things

 Posted by on 21 January 2009 at 12:03 am  Personal
Jan 212009

I’ve decided to use Twitter to post at least one good thing that I make happen each day.

I got the idea from Amy Mossoff, who got it from Jean Moroney, who got it from the big kahuna of positive psychology Marty Seligman. Here’s what Jean Moroney wrote about it:

Once each day, write down three good things that happened in the last 24 hours. You can write them before going to bed or first thing in the morning. You can write them in a journal or in a calendar or on a Post-it. You can include important achievements such as winning a contract or simple pleasures such as eating a good meal. All that matters is that you write down three such items, every day.

As you can guess, the purpose of this practice is to reinforce a positive outlook and avoid feeling overwhelmed by negativity. Even on the worst of days there are a few bright spots, and bringing them to mind helps you maintain perspective.

Dr. Seligman ran controlled experiments to test the technique. Not only did his subjects report being happier and more optimistic during the studies, but they liked participating so much that they continued writing down three good things each day after the experiment was over.

This little bit of thinking each day has large emotional rewards. Why? Because it strengthens two kinds of value judgments:

1) What you hold as good: Every time you decide consciously that something is good, you reinforce, clarify, and concretize what “good” means.

2) What you hold as important: Important means “entitled to attention or consideration.” When you spend a little time focusing on the good in your life, you are implicitly asserting that the good is what’s important.

Not bad for three minutes of thinking each day.

I don’t tend to be a pessimistic person. In fact, I’m pretty thoroughly convinced that my life is just damn awesome. (That’s one reason why Kate’s death hit me so hard: I’m very used to my life being fantastic.) However, I would like to highlight some of the particularly bright spots in my days: I like having a record of what I’ve done, and what I found particularly noteworthy about it. So using Twitter will be my variant on the “Three Good Things” method.

You can read my Good Things by following me or subscribing to my RSS feed.

Oh, and Greg Perkins is now posting his Good Things on Twitter too! Yeah! It’s a Twitter revolution! Stop griping and start good-thing-ing! You can follow Greg or subscribe to his RSS feed.

If you want to get more good advice from Jean Moroney, I recommend subscribing to her newsletter.

Update: As per Bill Brown’s suggestion in the comments, you might want to use the hash tag “#GoodThing” because then you’ll show up in the search for everyone twittering Good Things.

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