Wharton professor and best-selling author Adam Grant has a question for you: What are three things that are good in your life?
If you’re like most people who attempt this experiment, you don’t find it too difficult to come up with just three good things. As Grant explains, this allows something psychologically powerful to take place.
“When you only have to come up with three good things about your life, that’s an easy task, right? You can check them off,” he says, snapping his fingers three quick times. “You think about it and it’s like, ‘Well, that wasn’t that hard. My life must be pretty good.’”
You might assume that naming even more good things would make you feel that much better. Not so, Grant says. “The data show the opposite,” he points out. “People who name just a few good things about their life are happier than people who name a lot.”
People who name just a few good things about their life are happier than people who name a lot.
This psychology is consistent whether you’re thinking about good things or bad, Grant continues.
“If you ask people to name three bad things about their life, their life is infinitely awful, because we can all come up with three horrible things. But if you have to come up with even a dozen bad things about your life, that’s a difficult task,” Grant explains. “You will struggle at it, and because you struggle at it, you will assume, ‘My life is not that bad.’”
Watch the clip above to see this experiment in action with two OWN staffers, one asked to name three good things and then rate her happiness, and one asked to name 37 good things and then rate her happiness.
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