My wife wanted to buy herself a new car, a Mini. She was very into it. This made her see only Minis in road traffic: “I didn’t know,” she told me in amazement, “that there are so many Minis!
What we focus our attention on will become more. If we have fears and are constantly occupied with them, they may become more. This also applies to stress. When we are stressed and our thoughts circle, the negative becomes more in our life.
“Energy follows attention.”
Therefore it is so important that we strengthen the positive. This automatically relieves our stress. The more we engage with pleasant experiences, the more we realize how beautiful life actually is. This is what scientists call the Undoing Effect: Positive feelings alleviate negative feelings or completely eliminate them.
In a study, the participants were exposed to a stress situation: they had to give a speech spontaneously. The participants were divided into three groups: A cheerful video was shown to the first group. The second group had a sad one and the third group only saw the screen saver. It could be shown that the stress response of the first group was significantly reduced compared to the group that saw the screen saver. The stress of the second group was increased by the sad video..
Positive emotions reduce or eliminate negative emotions. This is the undoing effect. We can use this very effectively to combat stress.
One of the simplest and at the same time most effective techniques to train positive emotions is the technique Three Good Things. It has proven to be extremely effective in scientific studies:
Three Good Things has proven to be a very successful intervention: Depressions decrease and happiness increases. Up to six months later, after the participants of a study applied this technique, the positive effects were still measurable.. Even for severely depressed probands, some of whom were unable to leave their beds, this technique was surprisingly effective. After only two weeks, 94 % improved significantly.
How exactly do we practice Three Good Things? Here comes a detailed guide:
Three Good Things
Goal: Optimism Training
Technique: The positive daily review is about finding three events and writing them down. You can deepen the experiences by asking “why?” In Three Good Things there are three alternative variants: “Pleasant experiences”, “Use of your strengths” and “Meaningful experiences”. Choose one of these options:
1. Variant: Pleasant experience: Ask yourself: “What was pleasant today?” Or ask yourself: “What was wonderful today?”. Find three pleasant experiences. Of course, you can write more at any time, but three things are enough. You can deepen the experience by asking: “Why was that pleasant?” Here are a few examples.
Question: “What was beautiful today?” Answer: “I played with my little son this morning”. Question: “Why?” Answer: “It was so sweet to cuddle with him, he laughed so much and his sweet eyes…”.
Question: “What was pleasant today?” Answer: “I rode my bike today. That was fun.” Question: “Why?” Answer: “Actually I wanted to watch a TV series. But I got my act together after all. It was nice because it was a good feeling to move. I also drove through a beautiful forest, which was great.”
The “why question” deepens the experience. You can answer the “why” question freely – you can’t do anything wrong.