Writing down three things that make you happy, that you’ve accomplished, that you’re proud of or just made you smile a little can make a difference on your mental wellbeing. Since mid August, I have been practicing this technique every night. It’s gotten to the point where it feels strange if I don’t do it. I have a dedicated notebook for it and I wanted to share why writing three good things every day is something we should all do.
I intend to carry this on, all year around as I think it will be helpful. However, since the festive period can get very hectic or stressful, I wanted to share this now. The holidays, whilst meant to be full of joy and happiness, can easily become a bit overwhelming. It can become costly, or just busier than usual. So this idea is very simple, minimal cost method of allowing yourself to rest, relax and recuperate. To find the joy in the smallest moments and remember what is important to you or makes you feel good. Because despite how busy life gets, it can also be wonderful.
Every night, I pick up the small pocket notebook sitting on my bedside table and a pen. Sitting on my bed, I spend a few minutes reflecting things that happened throughout the day.
At first, my mind would go to the things that have bothered me in some shape or form. That growing to do list at work, for example. The one that stresses you out just thinking of it. That thing that went wrong or didn’t go as well as I would have liked. Something that was done or said that bothered me. The negatives. But gradually, as time goes on, I have managed to push past those and reflect more on the good things. The moments where things actually went right, the moments that made me smile or happy just thinking about them. This took time but is the result of spending time every night, reflecting on the day. After which, I write down three things that went well that day.
I won’t pretend that this a magical cure. It does not push aside every negative thought you have or ‘cure’ depression. But it helps. Sometimes, it can be really tricky to find three good things about a day. That happens. Honestly, sometimes, one of mine is just getting out of bed in the morning. It seems simple enough. Perhaps something we take for granted. But some days, when that crippling depression has a grip on you, getting out of bed can seem almost impossible.
Materials you need:
None of these are actually compulsory, but I feel that they help enhance the experience by having them. So these are all optional materials that you might need to get started.
A Dedicated Notebook
Writing things down helps you to remember them. It also helps you to pause for a moment, take some time and think about it. I personally feel like these three good things should be written down somewhere. Where that is, is up to you. Some people might prefer something digital. I like having a notebook on my bedside table.
It’s always said that you should avoid looking at your phone at night. And usually, by the end of the day, my phone is almost out of battery or has some unread messages that I have not had time to reply to. If I were to look at my phone to write these, I tend to get distracted by the million other things that appear on there. So I prefer to have a dedicated space, one where I don’t have to rely on battery or the Internet. I have a pot of pens and pencils on my bedside table too, to be fair, so I always have something to write with next to the notebook.
My notebook of choice is a Field Notes. Any Field Notes. Right now, I am using one the Black Ice (metallic cover, glued binding with lined pages). It is almost finished, so I have another notebook ready to go when that day comes. That’s a blue one with grid pages (their “Wednesday” notebook). You can pick any you want. The main thing to look at is the size of the notebook. I purposefully write in pocket notebooks as I can dedicate a page to each day’s three good things. For days where I have little to write, I do not feel like I have to force myself to write a lot as the pages are nice and small. If you do not mind blank space or prefer to write multiple days on a page then a larger notebook might be more suitable for you.
Something to write with
This is pretty self explanatory but you will need something to write with if you plan to have a dedicated notebook. I would probably keep a pen or pencil near your notebook (attached to it, if that’s an option), or alternatively keep a pen pot on your bedside table. Personally, I always have pens on my bedside table. If I get struck with an idea in the middle of the night, I need to write it down or I will forget it – but I won’t bother to get out of bed for that! Having a pen pot and paper nearby is pretty much essential, especially in the winter.
A friend to help
This is very much a preference thing. I have done it on my own in the past and I have done it with a friend. I actually started this in August because of a friend of mine. At the start, she had to message me to remind me to do it quite a few times as I often would forget. Occasionally, when I couldn’t think of things, she would assist me by asking questions or giving some suggestions of things that I might have done. Having someone there makes it a little easier, especially at the start. It’s nice to know that you’re not entirely alone. She did her three things and I did mine.
This is definitely not essential, like I said. But if you have a friend that is going through the same thing as you or could use a wellbeing boost then it might be a fun task to do together.
We stopped exchanging messages of our three things after a month or two, as lives just got busier. I still do mine, but I just write them down for myself now.
On the days you struggle…
Some days, you might struggle to come up with three things. That’s okay. Do your best to think of something. The day might have gone horribly but perhaps there was something that you liked, that you did well or that you actually did. This could be ‘getting out of bed’ or ‘showering’, if those are two things that you struggle to do. It might be reading a nice quote or receiving a text from someone. Whatever it is, just try and think of something.
If you really can’t, that’s understandable. Some days are just awful. Hopefully this will help you to see there is one or two good things in the day, even if they are brief moments of joy. That small moment of joy and happiness is often all you need when you are struggling. It provides a ray of hope that shines through the mountain of crap. That is the whole intention behind writing your ‘three good things’ a day.
Do what works for you.
It might not be for everyone, however. This is one of the things that I do, that I find useful. It helps me to remember the good things that happened in the day or find things that I am grateful for. In fact, it also helps me to find patterns, see where I have spent most of my time or, most importantly, a chance to see what actually makes me happy. There a few things that feature often in my books. Blogging successfully, socialising with friends, playing a certain game. I am going to look back on it at the end of 2019 to help plan my goals for the next year. Do more of what I love, and know makes me happy.
In a way, it is like journalling. A quick way of reflecting on your day and jotting down some notes. If you do not have time for lengthier pieces or entries, the three good things method can help you to ‘journal’. It takes me less than
It also gives me an opportunity to use one of my many notebooks, which is a very nice bonus. As a stationery addict, I have a ton of notebooks. So any opportunity to use my stash is a good thing, in my book. However, it is not for everyone. At the end of the day, you have to do what works best for you.
If you have depression or other mental health difficulties:
If you have – or suspect that you have – depression or other mental health difficulties, such as anxiety. Please do seek professional medical help.
Self-care can help improve your mental wellbeing but it is not necessarily a cure for mental health conditions. It does not replace therapy or medication, for example. However, it can be a nice thing to do in addition to professional treatment. Self-care is something more people should do, in general!
Everyone can use a bit of self-care in their life. If you want to see other self-care methods that I came up with, feel free to have a read of these blog posts.