For over a decade, the queen of daytime Oprah Winfrey wrote down at least three things she was grateful for.
She called it her daily “Gratitude Journal,” and praised it as a life-changing ritual. So naturally I had to test it out for myself because, as a millennial, I’m all about those ‘life-changing trends.’
I began the journal with a slight bout of skepticism – I had gone through a dozen iterations of a personal journal since I was 10 without enough dedication to make it past page five. This time around, however, I had the right mindset and a ridiculously overpriced journal from Chapters.
So, as millions of suburban moms had done throughout her reign, I decided to trust Oprah.
The Harvard Health Publication states that “gratitude,” which is the “thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible,” inevitably “helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals – whether to other people, nature or a higher power.” All of this connectivity leads individuals to “feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.”
Janice Kaplan, a journalist and former Parade Editor-in-Chief also realized the benefits of gratitude, and even wrote a book about it called “Gratitude Diaries.” In a recent podcast with the blokes from “How Do We Fix It,” Kaplan stated “we have a gratitude gap” in society today.
She argued that although we all know being more grateful can make us happier, we don’t actively practice gratitude daily. One of the reasons for this, according to Kaplan, is that we often feel “gratefulness” is soft and sappy.
For the average ambitious young professional, discussing gratitude over the watercooler isn’t necessarily edgy and for many, it even feels inappropriate. Whining, complaining and worrying are more acceptable forms of behaviour, particularly at work.
Kaplan disagrees, however. During the podcast, she argued that gratitude and ambition can work well together because by appreciating “where you are at the moment, you’re more likely to be successful.”
The problem is, we’ve all gotten used to whining and dwelling on the negative instead of relishing on the positive.
In part, that’s due to our psychological and physiological makeup. Most people would feel better if they were around happy, positive individuals, not only worry-warts and Debbie-downers. This is key in the workplace, specifically for employers who can motivate their employees not just with a paycheck but with a genuine “Thank you.” How nice would that be?
So, for 30 nights I sat down at my little wooden desk, pulled out my powder-blue journal and jotted down at least three things that I was grateful for.
By night three I realized that regularly looking back on my day and picking out these things led me to the conclusion that my life is actually pretty good.
Sure, Day 24 was a bummer when I had to pay my student loan bills and the 3rd Presidential Debate rattled my hope in America. However, it was also the day I got a free pack of Twizzler nibs, met a nice stranger on the TTC, and laughed with my grandma on the phone.
After only a month into my “Gratitude Journal” experiment, I can’t confidently say that this is a ‘life-changing’ ritual – as touted by Oprah – but I can say it’s made me realize that Bing Crosby was right, life is about the little things.
And being actively grateful for those little things can eventually change the way you view your day, your life, and yourself.