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  • Writer's pictureRachel Ogilby

Three Good Things

We know that nurses are at high risk for leaving their current employers as well as leaving the nursing profession. This is closely tied to burnout, as nurses with higher rates of burnout are significantly more likely to leave. As I prepare to help share my Doctorate of Nursing Practice project for Nurses Week, I have been completing more research on interventions that nurses can add into their day to boost resiliency.

One intervention that has been repeatedly shown to improve resilience and decrease burnout symptoms is reflecting on positive experiences.

Literature shows that naming good things can increase work satisfaction, build resilience to solve work-related problems, promote well-being, and improve commitment to the organization.

One randomized controlled study that took place in a tertiary hospital in central south China asked nurses to record three things that went well for 5 days each week. They did this for 6 months. The “good things” could be important or ordinary, and nurses were suggested to consider why the good things happened and what their role was in making it happen.

Nurses used an online system to record their three good things and received text alerts to remind them daily. After attrition, 72 nurses completed the study (33 in the intervention group and 40 from the control group).

The intervention group asked nurses to discover good things' in their normal work and life, and find out the factors (e.g. personal strengths, others’ support and environmental resources) contributing to the 'good things'. The control group did not receive any intervention, though they were offer psychological consults upon request. The study found significant differences in the intervention and control group.

The intervention group increased positive emotions, self-awareness, and self-confidence. Their intention to leave their health care organization was reduced during this process, and they experienced significantly lower levels of turnover. Nurses also had more courage to address work-related difficulties.

While the control group did not experience significant changes in negative or positive coping skills, the intervention group showed an increase in positive coping ability. Being able to cope positively is a strategy that can be used to overcome difficulties and disadvantages and is an important moderator for stress.

Naming three good things that happened during the day takes minimal time and effort, no additional training, is enjoyable for nursing staff, and shows an improvement in positive coping skills.

No doubt these skills also transfer into other healthcare professionals, students, etc. This is something I hope to add into my daily routine and instill in my family as well!

To begin, here are three good things (no matter how small) that have happened to me in the last 24 hours, and what my role was in making it happen:

  1. I talked to my mom on the phone (I reached out to her even though I was having a crummy day!)

  2. I settled my son from a crying fit and slept well throughout the night (I asked for help when I needed it, and used breathing techniques to remind myself to stay calm)

  3. Someone at the grocery store made me laugh by asking which aisle I found my baby (I asked the person in French if they could repeat what they said in English… one day I hope to simply be able to understand it in French!)

Would you be willing to list one good thing in the comment section? Is this something your family or coworkers would be interested in?


Guo, Y., Pulmmer, V., Cross, W., Lam, L., Zhang, J. (2020, April). Impact of WeChat-based 'three good things' on turnover intention and coping style in burnout nurses. J Nurs Manag. 2020;28:1570–1577

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