Thankful: What went well today?

Let’s continue on with our delightful foray into the world of writing words.

Yesterday was all about remembering that every moment we get is a gift.

Today we’re going to piggyback off of that concept with another gratitude inducing trick that will CHANGE YO’ LIFE.

Read for it? Ready? Are you ready, ready, ready?

Just kidding! I’m not gonna be spilling the beans just yet. But I am going to tell you exactly why you need it.

Raise your hand if you want to have (in no particular order):

  • fewer episodes of depression
  • higher self-esteem
  • more friends
  • longer, closer relationships
  • lower blood pressure
  • fewer stress-related health issues
  • better immune system function
  • lower rates of heart disease…

Okay, okay, put your hand down. I don’t want anyone getting carpal tunnel from this course.

But seriously, you probably had it up for a while there, didn’t you? Because pretty much everyone under the sun wants more of that goodness!

One of theee simplest, easiest, least time-consuming ways to shift your mind from feeling tired and frazzled to optimistic and grateful is to think about what went well.

And since good things come in threes, so should this.

I’m not just saying this to make more work for you. I’m saying this because this is a very simple trick to engage your brain’s critical thinking.

So, at the end of stuff – end of the day, end of the workday, end of a project, end of a meeting, end of whatever – I want you to recount to yourself what three things went well.

They can be things that happened in your life (a friend took me to my fav coffee shop) or things that happened in the world (today there are more women in government than ever before).

To really boost your mood personally, make them about you.

And recount to yourself what three things did you do well today.

Now some people will tell you to append the question ‘why?’ to this exercise.

Don’t do it.

Research has shown that asking yourself ‘why’ is a gateway down a rabbit hole of stories you tell yourself.

Trying to understand why something happens isn’t inherently bad, but answering the question ‘why?’ means your brain kicks critical thinking to the back of the shop and just goes to town with what it can imagine.

And before you know it you’re spinning all kinds of yarn that has nothing to do with reality.

So, if you want to steer away from trippin’ balls on your own fantastical fantasies, ditch the ‘why’ and replace it with ‘what’ instead.

If today was a good day, WHAT made it a good day?

This simple shift will have your brain looking for facts, instead of trying to come up with scenarios that fit the question.

So, NOT like this:

What went well today? “I was really productive at work.”
Why? I talked to so many people and they all thought that I seemed really busy.

But YES to this:

What went well today? “I was really productive at work.”
What made you really productive at work? “I remembered to have lunch on time, I was able to answer all important emails and I got 4 more tasks done than I’d planned.”

See what I mean?

Replacing ‘why’ with ‘what’ just nips the stories in the bud, and guides you towards facts instead.

I personally think that, if you’re gonna feel grateful for something, it’s better to be grateful for the real things rather than the things you tell yourself are real.

You can do the What-went-well exercise on the go.

And it’s super handy when you want to turn the tide of a tired mind without the time to sit down for it.

But if you really want to get the most bang for your buck, sit down and write about it. Describe it so that you can re-live it like a throwback sequence in a movie.

Doing this is called positive recall.

It doesn’t have to take a long time, it just has to be vivid and immediate (similar to the exercise from yesterday but with less death hanging over it).

The things that go well can vary from the mundane to the extraordinary.

You may even find that as you practise this, that your brain will automatically start to track and notice the positive sides of just about any event.

The good news is that the effects of positive recall last for a long time – as much as six months has been documented in some studies.

The more deeply you venture into the positive recall, the stronger the imprint.


Take 3 positive experiences from the past 24 hours and spend 2 minutes writing down every detail about each experience.

As you remember it, your brain labels it as meaningful and deepens the imprint.