It’s Time To Upgrade Our Life Outlook

It appears we are winning the virus battle. Certain joys of normalcy are returning and hopefully most will be restored in the near future. Let’s use this positive transition to upgrade our outlook, our joy of living, permanently. Here’s how, in minor minutes, to do that every day

(Average reading time 120 seconds)

In an article this time last year we reviewed the randomized clinical trials at Duke, and extensive research at UCLA and elsewhere that has consistently established how a simple 5-minute daily practice can significantly improve your life outlook, reduce negative stress and make you happier. For at least a week you simply write down three things that made you feel good each day and provide a sentence or two explanation for why they made you happy. That’s it.

Our Beta Test Confirms Happiness Results

Last week we completed a beta test of a newly created web app that incorporates the writing down of three happy things daily. At the end of two weeks 100% who wrote more detailed descriptions of their daily happy things (a sentence or two) increased their happiness. Of those who wrote nothing or just one or two words (Shelia, my dog, my lunch) 100% experienced no change in their happiness.

This beta test confirmed the increase in happiness levels demonstrated in the larger previous studies. What makes this work is not whether the things that make you happy are relatively small in seeming importance (“really enjoyed my meal”) or relatively large (“new marketing program successfully launched today”).

What makes it work is giving it some detail. If it is a good lunch or dinner describe the tasty dish, or who your pleasing company was and why. If it’s a positive work experience explain why or who else was involved. By adding this bit of elaboration when recording your three good things you trigger the retention and expansion of happier connections in your brain structure.

Now Is The Time To Do This

If you are already doing this, congratulations, you know how well it works. If not, now is the time to revisit it. The world around you is opening up, restoring many of the joys of normalcy. Here’s what I wrote as one of my three happy things yesterday. “Super Happy! Ended hard quarantine today! Pizza and beverage eating outside at Mellow Mushroom. Been looking forward to for months. It was great!!”

This was a bit longer entry for me than usual but for good reason. I’m over 65 and received my two vaccine shots over three weeks ago. This had been my end of quarantine celebration plan for almost a year. It was a beautiful day, great pizza and we were being waited on…wow!

Regular life has been, is, and will be arriving with more and more normally good things for all of us. Amidst life’s ongoing difficulties and challenges now is the time to start celebrating the everyday good things that are returning. Writing three good things down each day is the way to make the happiness impact stay with you for years. Although I encourage you to make this a habit you continue, the studies have shown that if you do it every day for two weeks the improvement in overall happiness lasts for years.

Happiness’s Partner

When you have written down three things that made you happy today, mentally note whether there was another person who positively added to any of those outcomes. If so, consciously think some good thoughts of appreciation about them. If the same person keeps showing up in your three happy things posts, you may want to write them a gratitude letter. Research shows you don’t even have to send it to benefit from its positive effects. Just doing it can increase your overall happiness.

Happiness and gratitude are good partners. If you Google “Does gratitude make you happy” you will find a wealth of research that demonstrates that gratitude:

  • Changes your brain for the better in lasting ways
  • Helps release the grip of toxic emotions
  • Creates positive emotions like contentment, love, joy
  • Causes you to be healthier mentally and physically

Partnering your happiness with gratitude multiplies both their positive effects. So dwell on a bit of gratitude or write a meaningful note or letter when someone is making your life happier or better.

Start Writing Your Three Happy Things

The combination of an improving way of life and surroundings and this simple written process to recognize and celebrate, is an opportunity to permanently rewire your brain to be happier. Take advantage of it. Open up and title a document on your computer or get a writing pad right now. Write the title at the top: “Three Happy Things”. Write today’s date, and before the end of the day write down three good things that happened for you and be grateful.

Commit and keep it up daily for at least two weeks and your life will be happier for it.

To more in-depth smiles,



“The heart that gives thanks is a happy one, for we cannot feel thankful and unhappy at the same time. The more we say thanks, the more we find to be thankful for. And the more we find to be thankful for, the happier we become.”

Douglas Wood (1951- ) is an American author, singer, songwriter, speaker, and musician.


When you know you have a lot to learn, you are green, like a fresh, green tomato…growing. And when you think you’ve learned about all you need to know, you are like an overly ripe tomato…starting to rot. Stay green.