The modern world – particularly business world – seems to demand more and more from us as days go by. We are constantly exposed to changes and very stressful environments that need great adaptation skills, as well as learning new skill sets. Every single day. Exhausting! If we don’t assume this challenge with focus, passion and resilience, it may overwhelm us and affect our emotional well-being and productivity.
Without realizing it, we spend too much time thinking about the bills to be paid, what remains to be done and the negative things that have happened to us during the day. This does not only consume our physical and mental energy, but our happiness too.
But…Why do we think so negatively?
It has a scientific explanation: our brain has been designed to survive. Imagining the worst possible scenario is part of our evolution. Martin Seligman, father and founder of Positive Psychology, explains in his book Flourish (2011) that thanks to this natural fatalistic tendency of the brain, human beings have been able to prepare for disasters and survive the most unlikely cataclysms – like the Ice Age – that made other species become extinct.
Paradoxically, in spite of being the most advanced species, we have a hard time focusing on the positive. Day after day, we experience good things that we insist on overlap with negative thoughts. Once we rescue those good things from oblivion, they help us training our brain to be more attentive to the positive events that happen during the day and perceiving life with more optimism. But… how to accomplish this?
Three Blessings: giving thanks to think positively!
Thanks to the discoveries of Positive Psychology, many tools and exercises have been created to develop and reinforce a positive thinking. They help us solve the conflicts of the modern world and increase our levels of resilience, well-being and productivity.
Seligman conceived a technique called Three Blessings or Three Good Things: Take ten minutes each night before going to bed to write down (in a diary, a notebook or a digital device) three good things that have happened to you during the day and why. They don’t have to be grandiloquent, they can be simple (“I ran into an old friend, and we shared a coffee”) but also very important situations (“My wife got the job she wanted”).
The importance of writing why this happened resides in the Cause and Effect Principle: every action has a consequence, whether it’s positive or negative. A cause for the second example could be “My wife got the job she wanted – because she worked hard to prepare for the interview.”
At first, it may seem a bit weird to write down these acknowledgments, but with practice it becomes easier. And as time goes by, the results become progressively visible: by being more attentive to the positive and leaving aside negative thoughts, you stay connected to the present and your self-confidence and resilience increase. Subsequently, you become more productive. This doesn’t mean that negative thoughts will disappear, but that bridges between positive and negative thoughts are built, making it easier to sort out the adversities.
Sounds good… does it work?
Yes it does! But we will let one of our clients from the Positive Leader coaching program show you. Rafael has been practicing this exercise for some time now. We share Rafael Molina’s experience.
«When I did the Three Blessings exercise for the first time, I didn’t put much effort into it. It was just another exercise.The second time, my perspective changed:I started perceiving those positive everyday things as small results. Even though those weren’t the results I was expecting, they kept me motivated. I started writing them down every day. Not just three, but five, ten. I had created a “highway to optimism” in my brain. Now, despite having had a grim day, I always look for that positive thing to connect with. The negative things are still there but, without realizing it, I became more aware of the positive things. There is a balance now. I freed myself from being in a negative state. I have managed to savor what goes well and be more balanced, focused, and more productive.»
Blessings – Productivity Equation
According to Shawn Achor, happiness researcher at Harvard University, a positive person is 31% more productive and three times more creative that a negative individual.
Therefore, if this were to be written as an equation, it would be:
3B = P + 31% P + (C x 3)
By just writing three good blessings each day (3B), we will increase our productivity (P) by 31% and be 3 times more creative (Cx3). Is it worth a try?