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3GT - the positive psychology practice everyone should know.

The 3 Good Things practice is something a lot of therapists, counsellors and coaches harp on about, and with good reason.


Natalie Rossiter writing in a journal

It's an evidence based, positive psychology intervention that anyone can do. It's free, simple and not especially time consuming. In fact, it's so simple that it's easy to dismiss it but there's a lot of research behind this plucky little practice showing how effective it can be. This is not a magic bullet (there aren’t any!) but practiced regularly, this activity has been proven to improve mood & reduce depressive symptoms. It takes a little effort but the reward can be very worthwhile! 


What is it: well, it does what it says on the tin - it's noticing and recording 3 good things. More on exactly how in a moment. It was created by psychologist Dr Martin Seligman.


Why do it: It helps you to notice, appreciate and remember the good in your life, cultivating gratitude and a positive outlook.


How does it work: It trains your brain to notice the positive, over time creating new neural pathways so this becomes automatic. This does not mean you ignore or are unware of pain or suffering, just that you don’t focus solely that so you can notice ALL aspects of your experience. It counterbalances the brain’s negativity bias. If you know that you will need to write down your good things that night you will be looking out for the positives as you go about your day, noticing more than if you weren't planning on doing that activity.


How to do it


1. Choose a realistic time frequency - daily is ideal but 3 times a week or weekly is good too.

2. At the end of the day, write down - you guessed it - 3 good things that you’ve experienced (see below for an example). They can be small or large things, most likely a lot of them will be small things.

3. Make this as detailed as you can, include what happened, how it made you feel and anything that caused it to happen.


Example

1. The tulips in my therapy room opened up & looked really beautiful. I loved their two tone colours, it looked striking. I’m glad I bought them.

2. Lily (my dog) was very well behaved on our walk, it made me smile to see her sniffing all the plants & trotting along in the sunshine. Knowing she is well trained and cared for gives me a feeling of pride & purpose.

3. The rainy weather made me appreciate how warm, solid & dry my house is. It makes me feel safe.



Adaptations:

  • Use photos as well as words, perhaps making an album of positive experiences you can look at whenever you need a boost.

  • Share your 3GT with a friend over text/email.  This would create accountability & is a lovely way to keep connected.

  • Make sharing your 3GT a family dinner table tradition - go around the table and say one of your 3 things before tucking into your meal.

  • If writing isn't your thing, use a notes app or similar to record you 3GT using your voice instead.


Tips for success

Regular practice over a period of time will get the best results, so stick with it. All new habits take some effort to get off the ground so allow yourself to do it imperfectly and make it as easy for yourself as possible, for example by keeping your journal and pen by your bed or the sofa. You could try 'habit stacking' where you add it onto an established routine such as right after you brush your teeth (maybe you're thinking what to right whilst brushing!)


Put it into practice: start right now - what is already going on your 3 good things list this evening?


Further reading:

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