Gratitude. Yes, we’ve been chatting about it quite a bit recently. That’s deliberate. You know how we recently established the (scientifically-validated) Top 2 virtues as Zest + Hope? Well… Positive psychologists arm wrestle a bit about those top two virtues. While Ryan Niemiec (via The Power of Character Strengths) tells us that Zest + Hope are our Top 2, Robert Emmons tells us that Gratitude is even more predictive of well-being than Hope. We’ll leave the arm-wrestling debate on the precise order of those Top 2 to our academic friends but let’s shine a BRIGHT LIGHT on the Big 3 Virtues: Zest + Hope + Gratitude. As I’ve been thinking about it, I actually like the order: Zest + Gratitude + Hope. We’re Optimizing our Energy-Zest so we can give our best to our Work + Love. (Zest is still the undisputed #1 Virtue—although I’d say it’s technically achieved as a by-product of Wisdom + Self-Mastery/Discipline on the the fundamentals.) Then… We practice Gratitude for the fact that we’re alive and for everything in our lives. (INCLUDING all the challenges, of course.) Then… We practice Hope as we see a better future via a specific goal that inspires us, know we can make it happen and make a plan to make it so. Zest + Gratitude + Hope. (Note: Throw in Love + Curiosity for the Top 5.) I love coming back to that and I’m constantly spinning those virtues around in my mind, trying to think about how to help us operationalize them more consistently in our lives. But… That’s not quite what I want to talk about Today. Today I want to talk about that “What Went Well and Why?” gratitude exercise I referenced not too long ago. It’s one of Robert Emmons’ top recommended practices. Here’s how Martin Seligman puts it in Flourish: “Every night for the next week, set aside ten minutes before you go to sleep. Write down three things that went well today and why they went well. You may use a journal or your computer to write about events, but it is important that you have a physical record of what you wrote. The three things need not be earthshaking in importance (‘My husband picked up my favorite ice cream for dessert on the way home from work today’), but they can be important (‘My sister just gave birth to a healthy baby boy’). Next to each positive event, answer the question ‘Why did this happen?’ For example, if you wrote that your husband picked up ice cream, write “because my husband is really thoughtful sometimes’ or ‘because I remembered to call him from work and remind him to stop by the grocery store.’ Or if you write, ‘My sister gave birth to a healthy baby boy,’ you might pick as the cause ‘God was looking out for her’ or ‘She did everything right during her pregnancy.’ 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 that you will be less depressed, happier, and addicted to this exercise six months from now.” Today’s +1. Here’s to celebrating many more awesome moments (and clarity on how they came about!) between here and our next +1! +1. +1. +1.