Listing things we’re grateful for is a Thanksgiving tradition for many who celebrate the holiday. But what if, instead of giving thanks once a year, you gave thanks every day?
That’s the question Janice Kaplan asked herself one New Year’s Eve a few years ago. She was searching for a way to feel happier in the upcoming year. Surprisingly, she concluded that it was her attitude – not the events that happened to her – that determined her level of happiness.
She decided to keep a journal, where she would record one thing each day for which she was grateful, for a full year. Once finished, she decided to share the results of her experiment by writing The Gratitude Diaries. In an interview with the Today show’s Matt Lauer, Kaplan comes to some revealing conclusions, and offers suggestions for how to improve your own personal and professional life with a daily dose of gratitude.
Stout’s Top Takeaways on Gratitude from Kaplan:
- Practice makes perfect. First of all, Kaplan explains, gratitude is something many of us are not great at expressing. People tend to express gratitude infrequently, and not very well. Committing to The Gratitude Diaries’ plan can strengthen your skills at being grateful.
- One day at a time. Kaplan’s process is easy. Whether it’s simple or profound, write down just one thing each day that you are grateful for. It’s quick, and yet at the end of a year, you will have 365 reasons to be thankful.
- Share it with others. Writing a “gratitude letter”: is another of Kaplan’s suggestions. Choose someone – a former teacher, boss, coworker or friend – who helped you in some way, and express your thanks in a written note. The resulting mood boost (for both the writer and the recipient), can last for weeks, says Kaplan.
- Take it to work. Kaplan also emphasizes that the benefits of expressing gratitude are equally valuable in the workplace. While paychecks are nice, everyone wants to be appreciated. A grateful boss can inspire extra effort from the team, while gratitude with colleagues promotes increased cooperation and collaboration.
In short, gratitude can be a real game-changer. However, it’s important to be truly present to be able to identify what you’re grateful for. What brought a smile today? Did you see something in someone else that gave you pause? Tap into your intuition to find these moments throughout your day, so you can more easily recognize them.
Got something you’re grateful for? Shout it out to us @StoutMagazine, #Gratitude. And want to know more about Kaplan’s year of looking on the bright side? Check out her #Stoutworthy book, available on Amazon.com.
Relying on both amusing personal experiences and extensive research, Kaplan explores how gratitude can transform every aspect of life including marriage and friendship, money and ambition, and health and fitness. She learns how appreciating your spouse changes the neurons of your brain and why saying thanks helps CEOs succeed. Through extensive interviews with experts and lively conversations with real people, including celebrities like Matt Damon, Daniel Craig, and Jerry Seinfeld, Kaplan discovers the role of gratitude in everything from our sense of fulfillment to our children’s happiness.