A number of studies have found that people who consciously count their blessings tend to be happier and less depressed, writes Jeff Haden for the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley.


Surprisingly, achieving a sense of contentment can start with making a daily rule for yourself. Rules are an effective way to change behavior, so make a rule that at the end of each day, you’ll write down three good things that happened to you. They could be big things or small things – the magnitude is irrelevant.


But don’t stop there. Also write down the cause. “We landed a new customer because we worked really hard on the presentation.” “I enjoyed watching my kids play because we have created a wonderful environment for them to grow up in.”


The key is to make your three good things causal, not just passive. A 2005 study published in American Psychology found the combination – three good things and the cause for each –leads to long-term increases in overall happiness.


If you aren’t particularly happy and embrace a fixed mindset, you’re likely to feel you will never be particularly happy. After all,  you are who you are.


If you embrace a growth mindset and aren’t particularly happy, that’s OK. With time and effort, you can find ways to be happier. You can change your circumstances. Change your approach. Change your profession, your network of friends, how you interact with your family. You can become what you become.


Writing down the cause for three good things that happen promotes and reinforces a growth mindset.


You did three things that made you happy. Which means you can do three more things tomorrow – and every other day, for the rest of your life.


Because greater happiness can be a choice, as long as you choose to turn thought into action. That process starts with writing down three things that made you happy today.

And, just as important, why.