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What Went Well – and Why?

15 Oct 11
Daniel Smith
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One of the exercises from Flourish is something that Seligman calls “What Went Well”. Here’s how Marty explains it:

  1. 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… The three things need not be earthshaking in importance… but they can be.
  2. Next to each positive event, answer the question: “Why did this happen?”

Simple process. And you can try it out yourself pretty easily.

According to his research, you’ll be less depressed, happier and addicted to this exercise six months from now.

They’ve been working to bring this style of thinking into classrooms. I wonder how different my school would have been if my teachers had asked each morning, “Children, what went well last night?”

BTW I refer to this exercise as “What Went Well – and Why?” (WWW+W). While this exercise is a useful tool to direct attention towards “positive” events, I think that a valuable part of the exercise, that broadens and deepens the impact, is the process of asking ‘why’.

Please note that this is one of the only times that I will ask “why?” In fact, most of the time, we don’t want to know ‘why’ – we want to know ‘what for’. But that’s a topic for later!