I’m always on the look-out for new resources for my coaching clients. So I was pleased when I was recently referred to the book “Flourish – A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-Being” by Martin E.P. Seligman. Seligman explores well-being and how it contributes to happiness and contentment.
To help shift the habit of focusing on what went wrong, Seligman provides a simple but effective exercise. It’s called the “What-Went-Well Exercise”.
Here’s what you do:
- Every night set aside ten minutes before you go to bed.
- Using a journal, write down three things that went well that day. (The journal gives you an on-going record of the events.)
- It doesn’t matter how big or how small the event; how trivial it may seem or how important. All that matters is that the event contributed to your day going well.
- Next to each event, ask yourself: “Why did this happen”?
What went well today?
I had time for my early morning walk.
Why did it happen?
I set the alarm at 6:30 a.m. so I had time to walk before my breakfast.
Why Ask “Why”
The response to “why it happened” can refer to the logistics behind making it happen, such as:
- I set the alarm
- I scheduled it in my calendar
It shines a light on why the event was meaningful for you and contributed to your well-being. To continue with my example.
The walk gave me:
- Time in nature
- Time for my “conversation with God”
- 30 minutes of exercise
- Opportunity to honour value of Good Health
Asking “why it happened” motivates you to ensure the event happens again so nurturing your well-being becomes a daily habit.
With your “What Went Well” journal you can go back any time and read your entries. The journal is especially helpful if you find yourself slipping into the negative focus of your life.