The start of a new year brings with it a time of introspection, some nostalgia and many more regrets. We aim to do better this year– be healthier, be more patient, be kinder…. be happier.
And regrettably, we fail even before the snow melts into spring. It’s not because we didn’t try or we’ve lost commitment. But we are always so wrapped up in the “event” of the moment that we are not aware that we fell back on our promise to ourselves. We either choose to ignore the minor aberration or we fortuitously put it on the back burner, promising to revisit it again, and “this time” make it stick.
I do this every year. And every time I yell at my kids to hurry up before I miss my train .. or show impatience with my son for not getting his homework… or tell my husband that he doesn’t do enough around the house…. I kick myself for not being able to control my emotions mid-stream. Afterwards, the guilt sets in and I berate myself promising to take a “chill pill” and “be less mean”. Typically the process follows: I apologize to the recipient of my attack then I hug them with all my might while I wail with guilt, promising that I’ll handle it better the next time.
Well, it is 2011, the start of a new year and I promised myself that this is the year to change. I don’t feel so neurotic as I read Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Eat, Pray, Love” and I realize I am not so alone for feeling like I’ve failed in this part of my life.
Then the email came from a friend of mine, Faisal Sethi, who I consider a constant innovator, a great creative mind with an incessant passion to venture into new territories and challenge himself. In the past year, Faisal’s program Do-Good (an ad blocker technology in support of good causes) gained traction and was featured in TechCrunch.
Faisal recently sent me a note touting his new site: HappyRambles. The mission of the site: create and maintain a gratitude journal for life. People who maintain a gratitude journal are healthier, more optimistic, and more likely to make progress toward achieving personal goals.
I asked Faisal how he came to start Happy Rambles. “The past couple of years have been challenging for me. I got married, mortgaged a house, quit my job, started up (and shut down) a social enterprise, and had my father move in with us. I’ve been watching him slowly wither away from cancer, diabetes, and dementia. Needless to say it has been extremely difficult, and frankly, has made me feel down in the dumps for a time.
So, I started doing some research on happiness. What is it? How do we attain it? How can we sustain it? And voilà, Happy Rambles was born. I’m happy to say it’s been working for me. :)”
This reminded me of Neil Pasricha’s TedTalk on 1000 Awesome Things. Sometimes we find strength and hope even in our lowest moments and Faisal found a glimmer of light and he hung on to it… and now he’s brought it to the rest of us.
In his research, he came across the following findings: people who maintain a gratitude journal (vs those that do not)
• Are 25% happier
• Are 25% more energetic
• Show 20% less envy and resentment
• Sleep 10% longer each night
• Wake up 15% more refreshed
• Exercise 33% more
• Show a 10% drop in blood pressure
• Are 25% more altruistic
• Can produce positive effects that last up to 6 months
• Add up to 9 years on their lives
• Have higher grades and occupational attainment (happier students are earning $25,000 more 10 years after graduation)
This was enough motivation to get me starting my own daily journal. And it keeps me committed. Every night Happy Rambles will email me the question “What are you grateful for today?” I can reply with three to five things and my entry is immediately stored in my own private, secure and personal online gratitude journal. Today I put up my first post
“I am grateful for my husband and kids. Family is what makes it easy to get out of bed every day and tackle challenges. They are the reason that I am so adamant that I will be more patient, more loving, and as my husband says, “be less serious, and have more fun”. My outlook in life needs to change. This is my promise to myself this year… and going forward.”
I still say this is the first day of the rest of my life. Maybe I can go forward a little bit more positively and with less regrets.
And I encourage you to “Ramble on”!