I am like many people in this world, despite having so many things I should feel grateful for—living in a country with so many opportunities, being born into a well-off family with parents and siblings who love me, having a good career, etc… I still find myself plagued by negative self-talk and being annoyed by what I label as “First World problems.”
After getting a recommendation from many self-help books and podcasts I started making a gratitude list almost every morning since July of this year. Most of the time I write down 7-10 things into my iPhone. Often the lists repeat themselves with things like, “I’m grateful for my wife Stephanie, I’m grateful for my family, I’m grateful I woke up in a warm home, I’m grateful I am healthy enough to get out of bed, and I’m grateful I get to create blogs and podcasts and broadcast them to thousands of people.” I have found that when I make these lists I genuinely feel better throughout the day than if I had not done so.
Right now I’m listening to a book by A.J. Jacobs, a favorite author of mine, called Thanks a Thousand. The book follows Jacobs in his quest to thank 1,000 people who contribute to his morning cup of coffee. He personally thanked the barista, the coffee farmers, the people from the water company, the people who build the skids to haul the coffee, the people who cut down the lumber that makes the paper for the coffee cups—you get the gist.
Jacobs discovered that when he told people he was grateful for what they did he felt happier.
In a podcast Jacobs quoted a Benedictine monk who said, “Happiness doesn’t lead to gratitude, gratitude leads to happiness.” It sounds paradoxical but studies by psychologists have shown this to be true. Studies have also shown that people who are the most grateful are those who help others the most.
Maybe you feel crappy today. Maybe things are just not going well in your life right now. Consider making a gratitude list or just telling someone that you are grateful for them. You may be surprised how you feel afterward.
Question: What three things are you most grateful for right now? (I would appreciate it if we refrained from politics.)