Home All Three Times Two: Love is a Verb

Three Times Two: Love is a Verb

written by Angus Skinner 17 February 2011

Angus Skinner, MAPP, works in his beloved and beautiful Scotland as an independent management consulting professional. He is also a visiting professor at the University of Strathclyde. He has over 40 years experience of social work services across the UK. As Chief Social Work Inspector for Scotland for 15 years, Angus provided advice directly to ministers on all matters of social work service legislation, policy, and practice development. Full bio. Articles on Positive Psychology News by Angus are here.

The three blessings nomenclature has not always served Positive Psychology well. To some people, it can seem silly. Others are put off by the religious implications. Yet this exercise has lasting benefits, more reliably attached to reducing depression than stopping smoking is attached to reducing cancer. How we behave is either down to our genes or our environment – no responsibility there of ours!

Man on phone - notice the smile!

   Man on phone  - Notice the smile!

It is, of course, down to all three: our genes, our environment, and what we choose to do.

Anxiety – or love – makes us move. And then effort helps us move on. Love is a verb.

My love and I are not often in the same place, and not tonight. We talked on the phone about this and that, made plans, worried about the world, and blamed everyone at work for being so stupid, as perhaps you do at the end of the work day.

Woman on Phone - Another Smile!

Woman on phone, also smiling!

And then we agreed to talk of three good things in our day before we slept. “I have had a rotten day and can’t think of three good things,” she said. Yet she did. And so did I – some inane, some important.

And so we agreed each night before we sleep, wherever we are, to talk of three good things of the day. Different things, six in all.

So we each multiply our own blessings by two. As Chris Peterson summarized, positive psychology is about other people.

You may not have a lover, but you probably have friends that who would love to have a conversation with you, particularly about something as refreshing as the good things in your life.

(Caveat: You may be cross and lonely in a marriage or relationship you cannot bear to continue. Accept help.)




Hausmann, J. (2007). Three Good Things: A 7-Year-Old’s View of the Three Blessings. Also appears in Gratitude: How to Appreciate Life’s Gifts.

Video of Martin Seligman explaining the Three Blessings Exercise.

Seligman, M. E. P., Rashid, T. & Parks, A. (no date). Positive Psychotherapy.

Seligman, M. E. P. (2004). Positive Interventions: More Evidence of Effectiveness. Authentic Happiness Newsletter.

Shearon, D. & Parks-Sheiner, A. (2007). The Science behind Reflective Learning. Includes a discussion of the studies around the 3 blessings exercise.

Man on phone courtesy of David Goehring
Woman on phone courtesy of billaday

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