positive-ages-back-the-undoing-effectGuest article

Positive review of the day - The Undoing Effect

My wife wanted to buy a new car, a Mini. She spent a lot of time on it. As a result, all she saw on the road were minis: "I didn't know," she told me with astonishment, "that there were so many minis!"

When we focus our attention on something, the thoughts on this topic increase through this focusing. If we have fears and are constantly preoccupied with them, they may become more. This also applies to stress. When we are stressed and our thoughts are circling, the negative in our life becomes more.

Energy follows attention

That's why it's so important that we reinforce the positive. This automatically relieves our stress. The more we deal with pleasant experiences, the more we realize how beautiful life actually is. This is what scientists call the Undoing-Effect: Positive feelings mitigate or completely prevent negative feelings.

In one study the participants were exposed to a stressful situation: they had to give a speech spontaneously. The participants were divided into three groups: The first group was shown a cheerful video The second group saw a sad video and the third group only saw the screen saver. It could be shown that the stress reaction of the first group was significantly reduced compared to the group that saw the screensaver. The stress of the second group was increased by the sad video. [1]

We can use this circumstance effectively to cope with stress.

The positive daily review

One of the simplest and at the same time most effective techniques to train positive feelings is the positive review of the day. It has proven to be extremely effective in scientific studies:

The positive daily review has proven to be a very successful intervention: Depression subsides and happiness increases. Up to six months later, after the participants in a study used the positive daily review, the positive effects were still measurable. [2]

Even in severely depressed subjects, some of whom could not get out of bed, this technique was surprisingly effective. After only two weeks, 94 % improved significantly. [3]

How exactly do we practice the positive daily review? Here is a detailed instruction:


Objective: Optimism training

TechnologyThe positive review of the day is about finding three events and writing them down. You can deepen the experience by asking "why? There are three alternative versions of the positive review of the day: "Pleasant experiences", "Use your strengths" and "Meaningful experiences". Choose one of these variants:

1st variant: Pleasant experiences

Ask yourself: "What was pleasant today?" Or ask yourself: "What was nice today?

Find three pleasant experiences. Of course you can always write more, but three things are enough. You can deepen the experience by asking afterwards: "Why was that pleasant?"Here are a few examples.

Question: What was nice today? Answer: I played with my little son this morning. Question: Why? Answer: It was so sweet to cuddle with him, he laughed so much and his sweet eyes....

Question: What was pleasant today? Answer: I rode my bike today. It was fun. Question: Why? Answer: Actually I wanted to watch a TV series. But I pulled myself together. It was nice because it felt good to move. I also drove through a beautiful forest, that felt good.

The "why question" deepens the experience. You can answer the why-question freely - you can't do anything wrong.

2nd variant: Use your strengths

Here you reflect on three occasions today where you have used your strengths. Ask yourself: "Where did I use my strengths today?

You can elaborate on this by asking the question, "Why?" Here are a few examples.

Question: Where did I use my strengths today? Answer: I played with my little son this morning. Question: Why? Answer: I am a loving father and can play well with the little one.

Question: Where did I use my strengths today? Answer: I rode my bike today. It was fun. Question: Why? Answer: I am disciplined and although I was tired, I still rode my bike.

3rd variant: meaningful experiences

At the end of the day, you write down three meaningful experiences you had today. Ask yourself the question: "What made sense today?" And then, "Why?" Here are a few examples:

Question: What made sense today? Answer: I played with my little son this morning. Question: Why? Answer: My son gives my life meaning.

Question: What made sense today? Answer: Today the sunset was so beautiful. Question: Why? Answer: It was a meaningful experience, because it showed me how beautiful the world is and that there is more than everyday life.

How many times? How long? The positive daily review should be done every evening, ideally in writing. You can use it as long as it is right for you.

tips & tricks

  • What comes easiest to you? Happiness research follows the motto "Strengthen strengths and manage weaknesses„. This means that you should take the variant that is easiest for you. Personally, I like the "strength-variant" of the positive daily review best. The "meaningfulness variant" is the one I can start with the least. What do you like most? You can vary at any time. That means, tonight you do the "Strength-Day-Review", tomorrow the "Pleasant-Day-Review".
  • In writingIt has been shown that it is best to do the daily review in writing. If you just think about it, it is easy for your thoughts to wander: Suddenly you find yourself at work today, where something went wrong. That's why it works better if you do it in writing.
  • Positive feelings: Ideally, we should re-experience the feeling of the positive situation. I remember playing with my son. This automatically awakens the same feelings that I had in the situation. If not, dive deeper into the experience: You can ask yourself what you saw, smelled, felt and maybe even tasted. The question "Why?" also has a similar effect. However, if you can't revive the feeling, that's ok too. Sometimes the effects are very subtle and hardly noticeable.
  • In addition, the positive Tagesrückblich sharpens our Perception for positive experiences. Through the positive daily review we are calibrated to positive situations. We then automatically perceive more of them. We will then also be surprised: "I even knew that my life contains so many beautiful moments!"
  • Self-esteem: If you want to improve your self-esteem, you can very well use the "Strength Variation". It shows you your strengths.

This technique is quickly done and has great effects. That's why it's best to start tonight. "There's no good unless you do it!"

This article is a guest contribution from Dr. Detlef Beeker


My vision is to enable everyone to be happy now, regardless of income and external circumstances.

I am a happiness scientist and anti-stress expert. I have been researching these fields for more than 20 years and have written numerous guidebooks. I am not only a theorist, but also a user: among other things, I have been meditating for over 20 years.



  • [1] Fredrickson/ Mancuso / Branigan / Tugade (2000): "The Undoing Effect of Positive Emotions", Motivation and Emotion, 24(4), 237-258.
  • [2] Seligman / Standing / Park / Peterson (2005): "Positive Psychology Progress: Empirical Validation of Interventions", American Psychologist, 60(5), 410-421.
  • [3] Seligman (2011): Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realise Your Potential for Lasting Fulfilment.