In my line of business as a stress expert, I witness the pain of chronic stress and anxiety daily. Clients tend to arrive once hell has broken loose, Armageddon is in full swing, and a lavender-infused, candle-lit bath just doesn’t cut it. Sound familiar?
What can you do? From a battery of tools to defeat stress, one particular exercise consistently rises head and shoulders above the rest: Three Good Things is powerfully effective. Think David and Goliath: a perfectly targeted strike at the core of looping negative thoughts.
This simple brain training tool is to be done daily for three weeks. Once a day, ask yourself what has been good in the past 24 hours? Find three good things and write them down.
I’m often asked to clarify: what type of good things? Anything specific that strikes you as positive: a shared smile with a stranger; the sunrise this morning; a crisp juicy apple; a sales call that nails it… Whatever lifts you and makes you feel good. It really is that simple.
As you search for specific positives you are training your brain to think differently – to shift away from its constant search for negatives; helping it step down from its state of high alert.
I like to describe this effect as similar to walking a new pathway through a dense wood. At first it’s not easy to cleave the new passage, but the more you walk it, the easier it becomes, as the habit of thinking positively builds and strengthens. The new way of thinking leads to new, positive choices and behaviours, and the associated ability to notice and act upon opportunities.
Often the challenge is sustaining the practice. To help the habit stick for the full three weeks, make it easy to do. Buy yourself a dedicated notebook and pen (writing is better than typing); and choose a consistent time slot to find your Three Good Things. One Incubator Director makes her notes on the platform waiting for her morning train to arrive; a Head of IT finds his Three Good Things as his computer powers up each morning; and the majority of my clients pause to reflect just before they go to sleep at night. This latter option is particularly recommended if it’s when the light goes out that your gremlins come out to play: your most powerful defence against the dark is to be found in the positive. (Think Harry Potter’s Patronus Charm!)
As your capacity for positive thought builds, so too will your ability to take positive action and share positive interaction, each reinforcing the other. Your sense of calm, clarity and control will start to be restored.
As one client celebrated recently:
“Everything seems so much clearer and lighter. I never knew I had so much control over my mood and how I reacted to situations. I genuinely feel like a different person.”
Is this one for you? Try a positive response!