Sculpting Project: What Went Well and Why? WWWW Week 2

Sculpting Project: What Went Well and Why? WWWW Week 2

My computer crashed in the midst of writing this blog. That did not go well. I sat in front of the black screen and realized OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAthis was my challenge. Take this ‘what went wrong‘ and turn it into a ‘what went well.’ This challenge was not easy but I had a plan. Use the 3 P’s to change my self-talk.

Take this test with me. Circle the choices that will best turn mywhat went wrong’ to a ‘what went well.’

P#1 Personal

A. This is all my fault. It got some virus because I failed to get the best virus protection.


B. This is not all my fault. Computers have problems frequently.

P#2 Permanent

A. This computer is done for. I’ll have to buy a new one and that is not in the budget.


B. Maybe it can be fixed. I’ll check with Evan first and if he’s stuck then I can take it into the computer shop for an estimate.

P#3 Pervasive

A. This is going to mess-up my whole life. I’ll have to borrow Evan’s computer and learn a whole new system. I won’t get the blog finished in time. In fact there is a long list of things this is going to throw-off.


B. This only effects one part of my world. This will give me a chance to focus on other things today.

My choices?

A. It’s all my fault (Personal ), it will never get better (Permanent) and it is going to mess up my whole life (Pervasive).


B. Its not all my fault (Personal ), it can be fixed (Permanent) and it will only effect one area of my life(Pervasive).

For those of us who tend to choose the A’s, changing our self-talk to B’s is not easy. The way we use the 3 P’s is our Explanatory Style and we developed this style when we were kids.

Explanatory Style is the way we explain the bad and good things that happen. It is the way we make sense of why things happen and how they will effect our lives.

It is this Explanatory Style that makes us pessimists or optimists.

The 3 P’s were developed by Martin Seligman, father of Positive Psychology, and came out of his work on learned helplessness. Can we teach people and other animals to become helpless – like the giant elephant tethered to the tiny stake? The answer is “yes” we can learn to become helpless.

Well actually, some of us can. But not all.

Psychology experiments, too complex to describe in this blog, have produced the same curious findings.

  • About 1/3 of us never learn to become helpless.
  • About 2/3’s of us can be taught to become helpless.
  • But some of the 2/3’s will bounce back quickly while others remain helpless.
  • Some of the 2/3’s will confine their helplessness to a specific experiment while others become helpless in many experiments.
  • And 1/10 of us don’t even need to be taught, we walk in the door already feeling helpless.

Why the difference?

It comes down to the Explanatory Style of each group. Each of the groups has a different way to explain what is happening in the psychology experiment and this creates the different responses.

How does this relate to What Went Well and Why?

When a good event happens the Explanatory Style will reverse.

Here is what a pessimist and optimist will say about a good event

Personal: (internal vs. external)

Pessimist: I didn’t do anything to make this event good.

Optimist: I helped create the good event.


Pessimist: This won’t last.

Optimist:This event has a permanent cause that will create good over and over.

Pervasive: (specific vs universal)

Pessimist: This only relates to this one tiny thing.

Optimist: This good will spread out to my whole world.

Sculpting Project: What Went Well and Why? Week 2

A. Each day this week name 3 things that went well and why.

B. Then use the 3 P’s:

1. Look for ways you contributed.

  • We take satisfaction in our God-given power to create good and we give thanks.
  • “I can do all things through the One who empowers me.” Philippians 4:13 (Paraphrase)

2. Look for permanent causes that will help this good repeat.

3. Look for ways this good will spread out to more of your life.

What happened with the computer? I drove it into our local Computer Business Solutions making a valiant effort to have a great attitude. I discussed the 3 P’s with myself as I drove. The drive was surprisingly enjoyable. The worker opened the computer up and got it to start. While he had it in his backroom blowing out the excessive dust I read the cartoons on the wall and laughed. When I asked, “How much do I owe you?”, he said,”Nothing, bring it in if it develops a real problem.” I told him about our WWWW Project and assured him this event was on the top of my What Went Well list.

Now WHY did it go well?

Personal: I took action and drove the computer to the shop. I choose to use the 3 P’s to build a great attitude.

Permanent: I now know a computer repairman who is knowledgeable and generous. I can come to him for any future problem.

Pervasive: My power to act, my new attitude skills, and the help of others will bring good to many other parts of my life.

My primary emotion after this event is gratitude.  I am grateful for the generous repairman and grateful that I choose a great attitude.

More information and psychology experiment details in: Learned Optimism by Martin Seligman


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