September 14

Using a Gratitude Journal App: There is no “but”

A couple of weeks ago a famous online tech dude named Stewart Rogers put my book on a very prestigious site for new techy things called Product Hunt. It’s a really big deal in the nerdy world. Really.

But the thing about Product Hunt is that once you’re on there, people have to give you upvotes to show their support. And you have to get plenty of upvotes right away or your little product slips down in the rankings and is much less likely to be seen. And even more challenging… you really only have ONE DAY to make it because the next day the leaderboard starts anew.

OMG but I was stressed out. He told me the day before that he was going to do it at about 9 a.m. Eastern Time so I got up at 4 on the West Coast and fretted. When the book appeared a couple of hours later, I obsessed for hours about getting people to check it out (it’s against the rules to openly ASK for upvotes).

I was a mess for hours, especially when the upvotes stalled and my email to my 7.5k followers resulted in quite a few people unsubscribing because I was spamming. Although I ended up getting 53 upvotes, which is pretty high for the books on Product Hunt, I realized that I was in the bottom 33% of the products that Stewart had nominated. I thought I had let him down. I misspelled his name in the email. I made my followers angry. I wasn’t going to hit critical mass to be successful. Everything was stressful.

I was freaking out on the phone to my (much more than an) assistant, Molly, and she said something that really made me think.

“This is a really big thing that you’re on this list. I want you to be happy about this.”

Wow. I wasn’t letting myself be happy. I was focusing on what wasn’t happening instead of being grateful for what was. This was quite a wakeup call for me. To be honest, I’m a worrier. I want to be perfect every time on stage; to be well prepared way in advance; to make everyone happy; to balance travel and work and home. And when everything isn’t perfect, I focus on the negative.

I was inspired to try a gratitude journal app after listening to a fantastic speaker named Mary C. Kelly. She talked about changing your attitude in a number of different ways. One that struck me as the easiest was to swap out the phrase “have to” for “get to,” as in:

  • Before: I have to go to work.
    After: I get to go to work and do something I love while making a living for myself and my family.
  • Before: I have to do the dishes.
    After: I get to do the dishes with a modern dishwasher in my beautiful home. I’m so fortunate to have these amenities!
  • Before: I have to go on a diet.
    After: I get to change my eating habits to become more happy and healthy.

Just that simple switch makes all the difference.

There are lots of gratitude journal apps for your mobile devices. I’m not particularly in love with the one I chose, so I won’t bother with a review. I don’t even remember the name. But the premise is the same: every day, you get to share things you’re grateful about. And I love that there’s no place for a “but.”

I’ve been faithful every day since I downloaded it, almost two weeks ago, and it’s really starting to make a difference. This morning is a prime example. For the first time since 1995 (no, really), I did not hear my alarm clock or it didn’t go off or whatever. I woke up at 6:21, and I had to be on a shuttle at 6:30. If this had happened pre-journal, my internal monologue would have been something like OMG I’m late I’m never going to make it I look like crap and don’t even have time to brush my hair I can’t believe I did this I suck This sucks OMG!

If the gratitude app had a place for a “but,” I might have written: The alarm clock didn’t go off, but I still made it to the airport in time.

Instead, here’s what I wrote:

Because the alarm didn’t go off, I was able to get in another half an hour of wonderful sleep. And since I had packed the night before, I was able to make the shuttle and get to the airport in time! And it’s refreshing to head out without makeup or fancy hair… I am not meeting clients at the airport, so I can be relaxed!

Now I’m sitting here at the airport between connections, and I get to share a tool that has helped me with you, my wonderful followers.

I’m grateful to you for listening. 🙂



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  • Great attitude Beth and I admire your honesty.

    I have been doing a gratefulness log since reading Authentic Happiness a few years ago.

    I just have it as a note in Evernote and update it at night. Evernote even suggests that’s the note I’m looking for going by the time of day 🙂 I just put the date at the top, and two to three dot points underneath.

  • In general, I’m a “look on the bright side” kind of person (OK, not when it comes to washing the dishes), but this is wonderful reinforcement. And although I’m not quite sure I can get to “I GET to clean the bathrooms, because I am lucky enough to have indoor plumbing,” I’m going to try! Lovely post, Beth.

  • I really do enjoy your Friday newsletters. Today was especially profound. It takes a conscious effort to remove negative words from your day to day thinking and vocabulary. I try to take out just one negative word out of my thinking and talking each day. By the end of the week, I feel so much better – that was 7 days of fewer negative thoughts and words.
    I am definitely going to use the gratitude ap.

  • Thanks for such an honest post Beth.

    First of all, I really appreciate you asking me to get involved with, and provide content for, your awesome Nerd Know-How book. I know my part in that was just a small piece of a very big puzzle, but I am always stoked to be involved with such great projects.

    And you should definitely not stress, worry, or even think about the Product Hunt listing. First of all, it was my absolute pleasure to add the book to the PH Books channel. But I also don’t want you to get into any kind of “analysis paralysis” either – let me explain why.

    PH Books is a “beta” channel, and is part of the main PH website. As such, it has fewer users than the main site. That means that any book added to that channel will only get a few votes in comparison to products listed on the main site.

    On the day, your book received more votes than any other in the channel, and that makes it a success from any perspective. The fact that a book can’t compete with the rest of the main PH site isn’t a reflection of you or the book, just a reflection of the fact that the books section is followed by a subset of the entire PH audience.

    Having said that, your post above, and the advice you impart, is superb and a great reminder for everyone. I just don’t want you to think you’ve in any way let me down, since that is completely impossible. 🙂

  • Good post, Beth. I think I will try your “get to” method of self talk for awhile. It makes good sense!

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