Oprah says it works, science says it works and I say it works. Since you trust me and you trust Oprah, here’s the deal: giving thanks should be done more often than just once a year.
We’re talking about gratitude journals, which have a range of impressive benefits, including better sleep, fewer symptoms of illness, less reported stress & more general happiness. Happiness experts (yes, those exist) cite that consistently grateful people report higher satisfaction with their lives, actually feel more physically healthy and spend more time exercising. If the end result is a happier you AND tighter buns, everyone wins. Also, giving thanks for what we have presently makes us unlikely to feel envy, since you’re focusing your energy on your current blessings as opposed to taking inventory of what you don’t have, compared to others. Gratitude journalists report experiencing deeper friendships, healthier relationships and increased self-esteem, all as a result of keeping a gratitude journal. Reflecting on our bounty also makes it easier for us to be generous to others, when we realize how much we actually have.
All of these benefits translate into giving you the power to manifest what you want. If you’re feeling grateful for your partner while working on improving your relationship, chances are you’ll be much more successful in staying positive through the journey. Add that with the result of feeling higher self esteem and a higher probability you’ll end up in the gym means to me that keeping a gratitude journal is going to lead me to a happy, less stressful life, with a six pack & more action in the bedroom.
A stretch? Maybe. But if you’re not striving for a better life for yourself, you must be dead. Since I know you want to attempt the best human experience possible, let’s get you started on a gratitude journal of your own.
Tips for making it work:
Keep it simple // Counting your blessings shouldn't be a chore. Make giving thanks easy to do, so there are no barriers to stop you from doing it! Habits form after regular practice, but can be hard to start. Remind yourself to give thanks by setting a reminder in your Outlook calendar, using a habit app like Lift or Streaks, or stick a post-it to your mirror- and do it while you brush your teeth. You’ll also need to set up a system for recording your blessings... which is also easy to do.
Keep it together // I recommend documenting your gratitude as opposed to just “saying it out loud.” Seeing a massive list of positive thoughts is powerful. When you’re feeling bummed, you have a reference point for bouncing back. Reminiscing with the ghost of Thanksgiving past is awesome for recovering the nuances of your memories... and every one loves nostalgia.
For example, in August 2012 I gave thanks for Google Reader (RIP), wearing jeans & a tee to work, and “mini Tahoe trips with tequila & bad cover bands.” Google Reader has since folded, our corporate dress code updated to omit jeans from my daily wardrobe & the boy I met on that Tahoe trip has since come and gone from my life.
I like to utilize technology so I am able to give thanks whenever the mood strikes. Use a system that is accessible across many platforms (ie. your phone, your home computer, work computer, etc.) Try Evernote, a word document saved in Dropbox, a journaling app or a blog.
Keep it short // Don't pressure yourself to list too many items and don’t feel obliged to explain. Complete sentences or a long journal entries are not necessary. But be specific & elaborate on details of the things and people that really make you feel warm fuzzies is imperative.
A few weeks ago, one of my employees called me late at night, reeling from a rough breakup. “Late night calls from Jen” is going to evoke a completely different memory than “Late night calls from my team that remind me that I am trusted and looked to for support and advice.”
Keep it real // This list is for YOU. Don't feel pressured to list only grandiose ideas, don’t be embarrassed or fear judgment for listing something mundane or frivolous. If it makes you happy, it goes on the list. Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, the generosity of friends and appreciating the good health of your family are all worthy of mention if they make you happy.
Don’t keep it all in // Sharing your gratitude puts all your good positive vibes out into the universe & if the mom from The Bling Ring taught us anything it’s that The Secret is real. And hopefully, it will remind others to take inventory of their own world and give thanks for their own blessings. So publish that blog, throw up a random post on Instagram or call your mom to share.
I’ll be sharing my gratitude lists here via my Five Good Things posts... since I want to spread that good juju too.
Without further ado... here are Five Good Things for today.
The Joe Rogan Experience Podcast // I listen to Joe as I fall asleep every night. He's literally in my head all the time. I'm so sorry for all of my friends who have to hear me start sentences with: "I heard on Joe's podcast..." Yes, we are on a first name basis.
The theme song to Beverly Hills 90210 // Daytime binges of my guiltiest pleasure make me so happy. I remember feeling complete AWE as a kid watching this show, thinking this was how my high school experience would be. Donna Martin Graduates!
Square Space // I have Joe Rogan to thank for introducing me to this company. This is the most amazing technology ever & thank you to all who contribute to their support forums.
Neighbors // Today I was cleaning my bathroom & screamed bloody murder when a cockroach skittered out from under my trashcan. I put on rain boots & armed myself with a can of hairspray until I ran upstairs to get my neighbor, Jay, who rescued me. He murdered the intruder while I stood safely 10 feet away and panicked. I HATE ROACHES. And yes, this is the second post in a row where I am RIDICULOUSLY grateful for my neighbors.
Throwback // When I first started writing this article, it was December of 2013 and I had this included in the post: My wonderfully crazy mother, who is graciously allowing me to store all of my worldly possessions in her garage and doesn’t mind having me as a roommate for a month. I’m gonna miss her when I leave. I do miss her. A lot.