A simple way to change your life in 3 minutes a day

3x3 exercise

Does that title sound really informercially? I don’t mean it to, but it’s totally true.

For the past couple years I’ve been doing something that, in just a few minutes a day, has radically shifted my life by shifting my perspective on it.

It’s the lens through which we view our life that determines how we feel about it, and I don’t know about you, but my lens tends to be negative. Down-trodden. Doubtful. Quick to judge and dismiss. It’s taken many years of time and practice and continual self-reminders to even start to begin to change my initial reaction from one of negativity to one that’s, not necessarily positive always, but at least less-judgmental. At least, there’s more space in between my thoughts and reactions now- most of the time.

I meditate and do yoga and take lots of creative/playful/free time for myself, all of which are important in terms of creating that space I’m talking about. But there is one thing I do in particular that I’ve noticed not only gives me that same calm and clarity, but also really lifts me up into a POSITIVE space, a SMILING space, an ALL IS WELL space, which can be a hard place to get to- it’s something I call my 3 by 3 list.

I mentioned this briefly in an OMHG chat and people seemed interested, so I wanted to share a little more info about this simple practice I do that has created a lot of benefit in my life just from spending a few minutes a day on it.

3 by 3 for 3 minutes

Towards the end of each day, or sometimes just when I think of it, I take a few minutes to write down 3 answers to each of 3 prompts-

I value about myself:

I’m grateful for:

I’m glad I spent my time today:

That’s it! See? Easy. Quick.


I try to think of different things each time. Some days it’s easy to list 3 or more things for each prompt. Some days it’s hard to even find one, but I’ve found that those are the days you really need to do this exercise most.

When you’re finding it hard to find anything of value in yourself, hard to be grateful for anything, hard to feel proud of what you’ve accomplished because you see only all you have left to do- take a few moments, breathe, sit with yourself, and do a 3 by 3 list. Find the goodness, it’s always there.

No matter how shitty I feel going into this exercise, I always gain perspective, breath and confidence by the end of it. It feels wonderful. Relieving. It can really help you re-align yourself quite quickly.

And an excellent remedy to zap myself back to life when I’m feeling extra down is to go back and look thru all the lists I’ve written before. It immediately reminds me of the things I’m so lucky to have in my life and makes me think, “What am I so worried about? Life is awesome. I’m good. It’s all good.”

By acknowledging and recognizing the moments that bring you joy, the things you already have now that are good, and how much you bring into the world, it immediately shifts how you think about yourself and your present reality, which not only brings more ease in the moment, but overtime, it starts to create some truly magical shifts.

This is a life-changing perspective-shifter of a practice, I’m telling you.

The best part about it is, the more you do it, the more you start to naturally look for things throughout the day that you’ll be able to add to your list!

You’ll find yourself thinking, “I’m awesome at this!” or “I’m so thankful for this”, or “I’m really glad I’m taking time to do this right now”, making a mental note to add it to your list later…. but therein lies the rub, and the awesome effectiveness of this exercise- it doesn’t really matter if you add it to the list, after a certain point, because it’s the fact that you’re noticing, as it is happening, that this moment, right now, is a good one. That’s when you’ll know the practice is working!

The whole point of the 3 by 3 is to begin to appreciate your life as its unfolding and relish exactly where you are right now.

The more moments you start to notice and appreciate throughout the day, the more the whole day feels like a good one as you’re experiencing it, and the more often you lay your head down at the end of it thinking, “dang, that was a really great day. Thanks, life, for letting me live you.”

And the more you start going to bed in that state of mind, the more often you wake up in the same one- open, grateful and excited to see what the day will bring, rather than starting out already dreading it.


Try this 3 by 3 practice each evening for the next 30 days, to get into the habit of it. Make a notebook in evernote for it, use an app, put it on your calendar, or use these free printable lists I made for you!

3by3 gratitude list

Download, print out on 8.5 x 11 paper, cut out and fill out! You can keep them in a cute little box, or clip them together, or hole punch the corners and string them together….Whatever you do, I suggest keeping your 3 by 3 lists together so you can re-look at them whenever you feel like it, and remind yourself of the goodness that is all around you.

Try to do it each day for 30 days (I did at first!) and see how your perspective, confidence and sense of happiness with your life begin to change for the better, and better, and better!


  1. Kati says:

    Jena, your 3 by 3 list is magical. I have heard of many self-motiving & -appreciating methods. The last one I tried out was 100 Happy Days where participants have to take one picture per day of things that make them happy. But this does not nearly go into depth as your approach. I will definitely try it out and hope I’ll stay committed to it.


  2. Susan Black says:

    Fantastic !! I’ve been meaning to do some end of end of day wrap-up, refection, gratitude practice & thanks to you Jena I get to do all 3 in 3 minutes (there abouts) Nova Scotia expression 😉 thanks

Comments are closed.