A Proven Way to Be Happier in Just Minutes a Day

a proven way to be happier in minutes a day

Can you really be happier in just minutes a day?

I know, I know, you’re thinking this might be a gimmick. But I promise you, I am not about gimmicks. I’m about real. So I say this with sincerity; YES, you really can be happier in just a few minutes a day by doing this one small thing. It’s been scientifically proven.

Want to give it a try?

Right now grab something to write on: post-it note, word document, planner, bullet journal, scrap piece of paper, yellow legal pad, napkin, Jr’s homework the dog didn’t eat or the notes app on your device. Anything to write on.

Next, grab something to write with, pen: pencil, crayon, marker, keyboard, typing fingers, voice memo, whatever you have handy.

(Really, grab something to write with. Trust me. It’s worth it. I’ll wait.)


Ok. Now write down 3 things you’re grateful for that have happened within the past 24 hours.

They don’t need to be anything profound. Simple works. But do try to make them specific. Include the what and the why.

For example, instead of writing “I’m grateful for my child”, you could write “I’m grateful for my child because they were so happy to see me this morning and his hug made me feel loved.” Or, instead of “I’m grateful for water”, you could write “I’m grateful for cold clean drinking water because it was so refreshing when I was thirsty after walking the kids to school.”

At first, it might be a bit of a struggle to come up with three things. Especially if you are going through hard times or you just naturally tend to see the negatives first, like many of us do. But keep thinking until you come up with the 3 gratitudes.

You’ll soon find there are hundreds of things to be grateful for in any 24 hour period.

  • Waking up alive
  • breathing deep breaths
  • stretching out in a cozy bed
  • sticky kisses from your toddler
  • having paper towels on hand to clean up the spilled milk
  • listening to your favorite song on the radio
  • kissing your husband hello
  • getting a text from a friend
  • savoring a piece of chocolate
  • being greeted by the dog when you get home
  • and on and on…

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Do this for 21 days and you’ll be amazed at the difference it makes. In fact, it’s been scientifically proven to increases happiness levels. Shawn Achor, happiness researcher and author of The Happiness Advantage, and Before Happiness, shared how researchers tested this in a workplace. At the beginning of each workday, employees wrote 3 new (within the last 24 hours) things they were grateful for into a word document.

After 21 days, the researchers measured the participant’s optimism levels. They found that those who measured as pessimists at the beginning of the experiment were now measuring as low-level optimists. 6 months later they returned and found those same people were now measuring as low to moderate optimists, without continuing the daily 3 gratitude practice beyond the first 21 days.

Did you catch that?

Pessimists turned into optimists simply by writing down 3 things they were grateful for 21 days!

How does this work? The human brain receives 11 million pieces of information each second. But it can only process 40-50 bits per second. So while your brain scans a lot of information, it’s only focusing or paying attention to a few. Those few things your brain pays attention to, you register as your reality.

Our brains are really good at scanning for the negative, as it has been necessary for the survival of the species. But by noticing only the negative, we experience a more negative perception of reality. By thinking about and recognizing the things you are grateful for, you are training your brain to pay attention to the positive things in your life.

In short, you are teaching your brain to see the good that is already part of your life.

According to Achor, a positive brain tests higher in almost every measurable area. Among other things, it’s 3 times more creative, 31% more productive, up to 10 times more engaged.

You can get the benefits even if you don’t write it down.

Truthfully, you don’t actually even have to write the 3 gratitudes to experience the happiness-boosting benefits. Just thinking about it helps you reap the same results. To more easily remember to think of the 3 things per day, build it into your routine. Hook it to something you already do, as a trigger to remember your 3 gratitudes. For example, while you’re brushing your teeth, think of the 3 things. Loading the dishwasher – 3 things. Folding the laundry – 3 things. Taking a shower – 3 things.

But if you do write the 3 things down, you can get a double dose of happiness when you read it again later because the brain can tell very little difference between the actual experience and the memory of the experience. Double Happy.

Testing it Out

I started writing down 3 gratitudes each night in my bullet journal a year ago after a period of time when I had fallen into a state of “the blues”. I had recently moved from the United States to a developing country where everything was different. Everyday life was harder. My husband was in an intensive academic program and couldn’t help out around the home or with the kids as much as had previously. I spent most of my day doing basic household tasks like washing dishes by hand, hanging laundry on the line, cooking from scratch, getting the water safe for drinking and taking care of my family. I had no close friends and nothing to look forward to.

Everything felt blah. I wasn’t clinically diagnosed with depression, but I felt down, unhappy and well… depressed. It was hard to get out of bed. It was hard to smile. I was grumpy and felt sorry for myself. But most of all, I knew I didn’t want to keep living like that. So when I heard of this research about the 3 gratitudes, I thought “why not give it a try?”

At first, it took me a while to think of 3 things. But I noticed as I went along, that it got much easier. Simply thinking of the 3 things each day immediately lifted my mood. It’s hard to feel grumpy and grateful at the same time. 🙂 I still had to do all the same things. My circumstances didn’t change. But I sure did.

Over time, it has honestly made a huge difference in my outlook on life! While my circumstances are pretty much exactly what they were a year ago, I am significantly happier and I see the good things in my life so much more easily. I feel hopeful and appreciate the life I do have.

Spreading Happiness

After I saw the positive results I was getting myself, I thought “I want this for my family, too.” So each morning when I’m driving my kids to school (and they are a captive audience, hahaha), we go around the car and each says at least 1 thing we’re grateful for so far that morning.

And it is Powerful! Not only does it turn a grumpy morning around instantly, but it gets the brain scanning for the positive. And remember a positive brain is more creative, more productive, and more engaged – exactly how I want my children’s brains to be on their way to learning for the day.

It Works. You really can be happier in a couple minutes a day.

I am truly amazed by the changes this one simple thing has brought into my life. It is so much easier for me to see the good now than it used to be. I’m happier, more peaceful and more optimistic that I was a year ago. And you can be too. There is power in appreciating today. Right now. The gift you have at this very moment.

How to be happier in just minutes a day. The view is amazing right where you are.

The view is amazing right where you are.

Try this small thing today:

Write down 3 things you’re grateful for in the past 24 hours, the what and the why. Keep it up for 21 days and you’ll be on your way to a long-lasting happier you.

Let’s Chat:

Let us peek at the world from your perspective. Share in the comments one thing you’re grateful for today, the what and the why.

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Want to be happier? Try this 2 minute hack that's changed pessimists into optimists.



  1. Danielle
    June 6, 2018

    I love this, lots of interesting information. I think I need to give this a try! #WanderingWednesday
    I’m grateful that our new couch came today because I love the color and it makes my home feel more homie.

    1. Rhonda
      June 6, 2018

      Oooh, a new couch. How lovely! There’s nothing quite like new furniture. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your gratitude!

  2. Elizabeth Voyles
    June 6, 2018

    I used to do something similar to this and I loved it. I need to get back into it. It definitely does lead to a more positive outlook. #wanderingwednesday

    1. Rhonda
      June 7, 2018

      It’s so simple, it’s easy to overlook. I use my bullet journal to help me remember to do it, otherwise I’ll forget. 🙂 Hope you find your way back to it.

  3. This is wonderful. Thinking of 3 things feels totally doable and I love that it doesn’t have to be elaborate. Perfect!

    Thanks for joining #WanderingWednesday! 🙂


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