Long before I understood it to be bigger than our little ritual, I started to ask my kids to tell me three good things from the day. I learned it was kind of a “thing” when reading Lisa Napoli’s wonderful memoir Radio Shangri-La: What I Learned in Bhutan, The Happiest Kingdom on.... It was that practice—three good things—which in part brought her on a life-changing journey to Bhutan.
With four kids, for the moment, I’m staying at home.
Our ritual began as part of the going to bed routine. Lying under the covers, I was trying to find a way to wind down and tie up the day with a little figurative ribbon. “Tell me three good things that happened today,” I’d suggest. The practice didn’t have to occur at bedtime, though. Last year, when my then-second grader was the only one in elementary school, I would ask the question during our first block of the walk home together this way: “Tell me the three best things from school today.”
He’s a smiling, smart boy. He’s also very critical. Because we walked home every day, I began to see that three good things is good brain wiring, like inoculating against a half-empty attitude or future curmudgeon status. Often, he’d start, “Well, music was terrible.” And I’d say, “I’d love to hear about that.” He’d tell me and I’d listen and then ask, “But what three good things happened?” And he always could come up with three, even on music days.
Most days, he got to three immediately, without complaint.
Generally, they went something like:
After School Sports
This year, as he struggles to make a transition to a new school, three good things are helping us both see that despite the sense of upheaval he is experiencing and new kid nerves, he does actually like something—two or three things, even—each school day.
His emerging steady three are:
The point of three good things is not to gloss over the hard stuff; it’s to anchor your sense of the good. For me, it’s provided a chance to cultivate gratitude—and it really works. Sometimes, I think the three good things is one of the three best things I’ve shared with my kids.
Quick—try it. Share three good things from your day right here.
Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser is a writer, whose work appears in the ebook anthology Welcome to My World, Brain Child Magazine & the Huffington Post, & Bamboo Magazine amongst others. She blogs for Teen Life & keeps her own blog—Standing in the Shadows—at the Valley Advocate. She & her dear husband are raising four children & enduring a great deal of chaos in the relatively sleepless process.