Hooters Hall

Three a day – the benefits of keeping a positivity journal

Blue skies and clover in the meditation meadow

Can you list three things that went well for you today?

Now, can you list three things that went well for you every day of the past week?

Some days it can be a challenge to list even one positive experience but that’s not because your life is a black pit of never-ending negativity. It’s because our brains are pre disposed to remember all the bad experiences. We have an inbuilt negativity bias. There’s a good evolutionary reason for this, constantly scanning our environment for threats kept us alive and our brains evolved to minimise threat, which means our brains spend much more time focusing on the negative rather than the positive.
Think about those times you made a mistake in your making, even though you solved the problem and finished the project I bet you were still focused on that negative mistake, rather than the positive of having the skill to fix it or to complete the project despite the mistake.
Martin Seligman credited as being the ‘Father of Positive Psychology’ conducted research into overcoming the negativity bias inherent in all of us. Every day for a week participant were asked to write down 3 things that went well each day and an explanation for why they went well.
After one-week participants were found to be 2% happier than before. It didn’t end there though, happiness kept increasing from 5% at one month to 9% more happiness at 6 months. The participants were only told to keep a positivity journal for 1 week but they found the exercise so beneficial they continued doing it.
Apart from our innate negativity bias the brain has another unhelpful mode of operation that limits our experience of happiness: the ability to adapt. We very quickly get used to the things we have or that occur in our life.
Think about the last time you acquired some new tools or supplies for your making. It probably made you happy but how long did that happiness last? Hours, a day, a week? How long before your appreciation of it faded and it was just another tool or part of your ever-increasing stash of supplies?
The answer may vary but the reason for the happiness and fading of that feeling is the same. While you were consciously thinking about and therefore experiencing gratitude for your new tool or supply you automatically feel happy. Appreciation creates happiness – automatically.
So, taking the time to write down 3 good things that have happened that day, or 3 things that you have to be grateful for, in as much detail as possible, imprints these positives more deeply on the brain, creating neural pathways of gratitude and appreciation.
Research has shown positive emotions don’t just make you feel good in the present but also increase positive emotions in the future. Creating a positive upward spiral in your mood and happiness that will bring positivity into your making increasing your satisfaction and creativity as you train your brain to stop focusing on the negative and appreciate all of the positives.

Tips for keeping a Positivity Journal

  1. You don’t need fancy stationery you can keep a journal on your phone. Either use a notes app or simply text or email your positive experiences to yourself each day.
  2. You can list more than 3 things
  3. If you find it easier to list negative things this is your negativity bias in action, challenge it and day by day it will be easier to find 3 positives.
  4. Completing your positivity journal just before bed can be helpful because what we focus on before sleep continues to be processed by our minds as we sleep.
  5. Write minimum of 3 positives everyday – you’re getting your brain on a strict training program and need to stick to it to get results.
  6. Try not to write the same things – you have more positives in your life than you think. It’s just that pesky negativity bias is hiding them from you.

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