Articles→Positive Psychology→Positive Psychology Exercises
Martin Seligman, the leader of the Positive Psychology movement, has created various positive psychology exercises to help people be happier. He has even tested these methods on thousands of people to see which ones worked, and which ones had little or no effect. In evaluating which ones had the biggest effects, Dr. Seligman has singled out three positive psychology activities that are particularly effective in increasing a person’s level of well-being.
Probably the most effective and most known positive psychology exercise is something called “Three Good Things.” Briefly, in this method, a person writes down three things that they enjoyed in the previous day, then they ponder and write a sentence as to why that good thing happened to them. For example, you might write something like, “I had a great lunch date with Susan. Why? Because I enjoy deep conversation and people like me.” Studies show that this simple positive psychology exercise can increase one’s level of happiness by up to 25%.
Another positive psychology exercise shown to be quite effective is called a Gratitude Letter or a Gratitude Visit. In this method, a person writes a letter to anyone who they feel has positively impacted their life—stating in detail how they bettered their life. It could be a parent, a teacher, a friend, an employer—virtually anyone. Then, they arrange to meet with and read their letter to this person who positively impacted their life. Research shows that this technique greatly increases a person’s level of happiness for up to a full month.
A third positive psychology exercise that Dr. Seligman suggests is that of discovering what character trait is strongest in you, and then using that trait every day for a week—in the service of other people. For example, if you have a strong sense of curiosity, you could find a way to use your curiosity in the service of your kids or your friends. One way of doing that might be to help your child with their science homework—as you explain to them what you find fascinating about science. By doing that, you’d likely feel more of a sense of purpose in your life, and thus happier.
There are many other positive psychology exercises that Dr. Seligman and others have created. Many of them can be done in under two minutes a day, and yet their effect on your level of happiness can be quite dramatic. In an attempt to teach people as many of these exercises as possible, I created an audio home study course called, “Deeper Happiness: One Month to a Lifetime of Greater Fulfillment.” In this audio course, there are over 30 simple methods you can do to easily increase your level of well-being.
For a limited time, I am allowing people to download up to three lectures/methods from this course for free. By listening to these entertaining and practical lectures, my hope is that you’ll be inspired to download the entire course.