How to Maintain Your Gratitude Journaling Habit Once and for All

Practicing gratitude can make us healthier, happier, and more enjoyable to be around. But I’ve found both gratitude letters and journaling to be a pain.

Gratitude letters are hard to make time for – writing a genuine letter to someone is not a quick, five-minute task. The gratitude apps I saw on the app store were clunky or ridden with ads.

Solutions like The Five Minute Journal worked well for me, but I hated carrying it around with me everywhere. On days when I was traveling, if I didn’t bring my journal in my bag, my journaling habit fell apart. The lack of consistency drove me mad.

That’s why I was so glad to see that the creators of The Five Minute Journal finally created a mobile app. At first, I was a bit turned by the price tag, but given that the hardcover version was ~$20 for a few hundred pages, paying $5 for an app that allowed for unlimited entries and PDF exports seemed totally worth it.

In short, the app is phenomenal. Not only is it significantly easier to do my journaling through my phone on the morning commute, but by allowing photos to be associated with each entry, it encourages me to be more mindful of capturing something great about each day. Continue Reading…

When a Gratitude Journal Fails: How to Stay Happy in the Face of Suffering


The following is a cross-over post from my other blog, On that blog, I write about topics I consider very personal, but in the case of today’s post, it was applicable to Living for Improvement as well. The topic? The interplay of attachment and gratitude, and how one doesn’t work without the other. If you’ve ever tried gratitude journals before, you’ll appreciate this post. Enjoy!


In your first few minutes of reading about positive psychology, you’ll likely come across the recommendation to start a gratitude journal.

There’s strong research demonstrating the power of gratitude. Anyone serious about improving his or her happiness should be looking into ways to express more gratitude throughout the day.

However, like anything that deals with emotions, gratitude can be tricky. When I started out, I would write three things I was grateful for each morning. I’d express gratitude for my youth, my relatively good health, the health of my friends and family, the ability to afford things that make me happy, and more.

After a few weeks, it dawned on me: I had an easier time seeing the positive in my day. For me that’s huge, and all it took was a few minutes each morning. Talk about a win!

However, things took a turn for the worse… Continue Reading…

The Secret to Happiness: An Important Lesson From 75 Years of Research

The Internet is full of opinions about how to best live a fulfilling, meaningful life. But what if I told you that a study has been underway for the last 75 years to answer this very question?

Enter Robert Waldinger.

Waldinger is the Director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development. This study is arguably the longest, most thorough longitudinal study in history. The question it seeks to answer: What allows us to remain healthy and fulfilled as we progress through life? Continue Reading…

Hiding Your Uniqueness May Be Turning People Off

don't hide who you are

dataclysmIt’s 10:52pm on a Thursday. Having consumed too much caffeine, I lay in bed, tired but unable to drift off into slumber. With a sigh, I turn on the bedside lamp and grab the nearest book: Dataclysm: Who We Are (When We Think No One’s Looking) by Christian Rudder.

In Dataclysm, Rudder takes absurdly large datasets from, the dating website he co-founded, and uses this data to tell the stories of how we behave online and why. It’s fascinating.

The particular chapter I read tonight focuses on how “controversial”, polarizing women get more messages and dates on than those who are conventionally attractive. For example, if a woman with many piercings and tattoos has an average rating of 3 – comprised of some men rating her a lowly 1 (not a fan of tattoos) and some men rating her a perfect 5 (love the tattoos) – she will, on average, find more success than the bombshell blonde where most guys rate her a 3, 4, or 5.  In other words, an average rating is misleading. What’s important is the distribution of ratings.

Wow, that’s weird. Why does that happen?

Who knows. Rudder’s data shows correlation, not causation. Nevertheless, Rudder ventures a few guesses, first focusing on the perceptions of the men who choose to message her:

“Her very unconventionality implies that some other men are likely turned off; it means less competition. Having fewer rivals increases his chances of success.”

This is a solid guess, but probably doesn’t tell the whole story.

Of greater interest, Rudder also proposes that this phenomenon is related to the well-documented pratfall effect (i.e. an individual’s attractiveness increases after committing a small blunder). If that’s even partially true, it would indicate that we often appreciate things more, not because of a lack of flaws, but by their very presence.

It seems we appreciate things more, not because of a lack of flaws, but by their very presence. Click To Tweet

To quote Rudder one more time:

“So at the end of it, given that everyone on Earth has some kind of flaw, the real moral here is: be yourself and be brave about it. Certainly trying to fit in, just for its own sake, is counterproductive.”

This was the idea that caught my attention.

We feel such a strong pull towards appearing “normal”, lest we expose ourselves to judgment and ridicule from others. Yet here we are with a case study demonstrating the triumph of the unconventional. Perhaps this call to uniqueness carries over into other areas of life as well? Or maybe it’s an isolated case in the wacky world of online dating.

It’s an idea worth exploring.

Photo Credit: Enrico Policardo