A Simple Way To Increase Happiness


Gratitude - 3 Good Things - Dr. Sarah Allen

Happiness often seems like a fleeting or elusive state, yet positive psychology research has shown that it’s within our power to foster greater well-being in our lives.

One of the most successful techniques to come out of the Positive Psychology movement (Seligman) is the task of keeping a daily journal where you write down three positive things that have happened during your day. It doesn’t need a page full of  journaling if that’s not your thing, you can just write down bullet points. It’s simple, list three things that happened that day that have made you feel good.

Why does this work? Well, if we know we have to write something in the evening, we keep our eyes open during the day and therefore are more likely to notice and pay a little bit more attention to positive events. Quite simply, noticing something positive and noting how it makes us feel happy makes our brain increase serotonin. If we do this regularly, over time we increase our happiness.

Practice Gratitude

Practicing gratitude goes beyond saying “thank you.” It entails a deep recognition and appreciation for the aspects of life we often take for granted. The benefits of gratitude are numerous—it can improve mental health, increase resilience, and even enhance sleep quality.

Incorporating gratitude into your daily routine can be simple as keeping a gratitude journal: Every evening, write down three things you’re grateful for.

Looking out for positive things that you observe or that happen to you during your day can help improve your outlook and, over time, your level of happiness. I have tweaked it a little bit and have divided this daily task into two sections; things that we just observe and things that we made happen.   It only takes a couple of minutes to write down three examples of each.

Three Things That Made You Smile/Feel Good

Write down three positive things that you noticed today and are grateful for:

“I saw the daffodils were poking through the soil next to my garage and it made me smile that Spring is finally on its way”.

“My son came through the door and gave me a big hug hello”.

“I looked at a cartoon on Facebook and thought it was so funny I laughed out loud”.

When we are feeling down we tend to just focus on the negative and ignore the positive. Part of therapy is to widen your focus to include things that went well and that you enjoyed, not just what irritated you. The act of noticing and paying attention to the experience makes the brain take more notice and therefore feel more pleasure. This is the opposite of being on automatic pilot as you go through your day.

Three Things That You Had A Part In Making It Positive

Jot down three things that went well for you today. Why did it happen, what role did you play?

“I began the morning in a relaxed way by lying in bed cuddling with my kitty cat – because I set the alarm to go off ten minutes earlier than I needed to get up I still had plenty of time to get ready”.

“I felt very connected to my child because I put down my phone and really listened to how his day at school had gone”.

“I had a lot of work to get done but I made myself take a break and take my friend up on her offer of going for a walk. Afterwards I felt more refreshed and was able to be more productive”.

Just as we tend to ignore the positive and notice the bad things that have happened, we also tend to ignore the positive influence we have over things and events. I think it is so important to recognize not only what was good, but how you came to make it happen so you can hopefully repeat it in the future.

The same with negative things – if you have the attitude that things just happen rather than recognizing what you did or didn’t do to affect the outcome – it makes events feel out of your control and we humans are happiest when we feel some sense of control.



Happiness is not a destination but a practice. By infusing gratitude into your daily life, you invite a deeper, more sustained form of happiness. Begin with small steps and watch as these ‘3 Good Things’ considerably enhance your positive feelings.

I hope you find these tips useful. If you would like to read more about ways to improve your mood please take a look at my free booklet below by entering your name and the email address you want the booklet sent to. I also have many articles on ways to improve your emotional well-being on my blog which I hope you will also find helpful .



If you are thinking about getting counseling and you’d like to talk to someone about the things that are troubling you, I am happy to help.