What-Went-Well Exercise

Every night for the next week, set aside ten minutes before you go to sleep. Write down three things that went well for you today and why they went well. You may use a journal or a computer to write about the events, but it is important that you have a physical record of what you wrote. The three things can be of little importance (“A stranger let me move ahead of her in the checkout line at the grocery store because I was late for an appointment”), or they can be of great importance (“I received a top score on my work evaluation and was given a promotion”), so long as they are positive events.

Next to each positive event, answer the question “Why did this happen?” For example, if you wrote “a stranger let me move ahead of her in the checkout line,” you might write, “because I politely asked if I could jump in front of her.” Or if you wrote, “I received a promotion at work,” you might write, “because my current manager has provided one on one training and opportunities to take more responsibility,” or “ because I worked really hard and diligently for the past six months.”

Writing about why the positive events in your life happened may seem awkward at first, but please stick with it for one week. It will get easier.

*The odds are you will be less depressed, happier, and addicted to this exercise six months from now. Take Away – The longer you do this exercise the longer it works. Combined with the Signature Strengths Exercise, the benefits increase and last longer.

adopted from Flourish, Martin E.P. Seligman (Free Press 2012)