Simply enough, that’s my favorite question right now to ask absolutely everyone. People I’m meeting for the first time, friends who live in Thailand that I can only iMessage with, my roommate, the kids I babysit – no one is immune to this question. In fact, it’s something I make a point to ask myself every day.
The daily habit started (as most habits do) with New Year’s Day this year. One of my good friends (and graphic designer extraordinaire) gave my two roommates and me a deceptively simple gift as we started off 2015: 12 sheets, labeled by month and with a line for each day of the month, pinned together, with the line “2015- best of my days” under each month. The idea? Take one minute at the end of each day (or the beginning of the next day, or maybe just on a Friday with a beer in your hand because life happens) to remember and consciously identify the best part of your day. One minute, one line, once a day. It’s too easy not to do. And as a group, my roommates and I made it a habit, talking about the best parts of our day and celebrating life’s small joys with each other.
Now that one roommate has had to move out and one has abandoned me for a month while she works a music festival on the East Coast (kidding, love ya Chels), we still keep it up with a group text, and it’s a small tradition that ties us together no matter how many miles we are apart. And I’ve found myself asking other people what the best part of their day has been as well. It’s a better text to send that just “What’s up?” and it’s a better way to get a quick glimpse into the life of a new friend than just asking, “So, where do you work?”
Actually, research has shown that expressing and recognizing gratitude has benefits for your physical health as well as your emotional and mental health:
- Grateful people take better care of themselves and engage in more protective health behaviors like regular exercise, a healthy diet, regular physical examinations (from WebMD)
- Gratitude helps you manage stress (from WebMD)
- Grateful people are usually more optimistic, which boosts your immune system (from WebMD)
- Gratitude makes us happier (from happierhuman.com)
- Gratitude makes you more resilient (from happierhuman.com)
Keeping a gratitude journal isn’t a huge committing to writing paragraphs of flowery prose every day – in fact, in my experience, it turns out to be the opposite. My gratitudes are nearly always one line exactly (in the event that I have a SUPER AWESOME PHENOMENAL BEST DAY I’ll write more bullet points on the back of another page), but they’re enough to trigger a memory. Real examples:
- “Watching The Challenge + burrito bowl”
- “Party Bus”
- “Great 16 miler”
- “Watching puppy class at Oz Park”
- “Gelato milkshake”
- “[kid I babysit] telling me I was the best part of her day”
Of course, there are more serious “bests” (that I don’t really want to put on the Internet), but I think the point is to notice how happy the small things can make you, as cheesy as it sounds. The little things add up over time. Sure, there are days when it’s a bit of a struggle to find the best part of my day (and to date, I’ve had one day where I’ve written “ugh, nothing”), but every day doesn’t have to be filled with pizzas, puppies, pool days and new Nikes to be a good day. It’s a lot easier to view each day as a “good day” when you can point to one specific event that made your day a little happier.
Today, the best part of my day was a short, 20-minute snooze by the pool in the afternoon. What was the best part of your day?