Everyone Should Do This for 3 Mins. A Day

by Maria Yagoda

By all accounts, I am an extremely negative person. I find myself wrapped up in the “bad day” narrative, well, most days — whether it’s because of a new constellation of pimples on my left cheek, a glaring lack of underwear in my drawer, or getting hit in the face by a piece of bread thrown at me by a homeless man (this has actually happened). I rarely set aside the time, even a few seconds, to take stock of all the wonderful things that I have in my life: a warm bed, delicious children’s chewable vitamins, friends who support me relentlessly, defined calves, having once made eye contact with a really hot guy at Taco Bell, etc.

So, I decided to start taking actual note of the great things in my life by creating a "Good Things That Happen" book. Countless studies show the mental health benefits and other positive impacts of journaling, so I aimed to harness all of the activity's magic powers to cultivate and nourish feelings of appreciation, gratitude, and positivity.

Every night, after some soothing Instagram scrolling but before going to sleep, I date a fresh page of the book and list everything positive that happened to me that day (you can, of course, repeat things from past days — "I could be fatter" has shown up a bunch of times). I write down anything that comes to mind — any and all positive thoughts that, if not recorded, would float through my brain to make way for an always-powerful anxious or negative thought. Sure, there's value in writing down the thoughts that trouble or haunt you, but not here. Save that for your journal journal. In the Good Things That Happen book, you're required to stay positive.

In a matter of one week, I've gotten into the habit of doing this every night. It's become such a lovely, soothing ritual, I now can't imagine getting through the day without setting aside three minutes to appreciate how delicious that lollipop was earlier, or how miraculously long my nail polish has lasted without chipping.

I believe there are well-adjusted, highly functional people in the world who don't need to physically write down their blessings to appreciate them on a routine basis. I am not one of those people. But strangely enough, after only one week into my "Good Things That Happen" experiment, I may be becoming one of those people. This morning on the subway, I found myself making a mental note of how delighted I was to be sitting, warm, comfortable. I'll write this down tonight, I thought. Too often, we don't set aside the mind space to appreciate the beauty of simple things, like sitting. God, I love sitting.