Why you need to be more thankful (even when you aren’t)

Updated to Habits, Productivity on December 19, 2022.

It’s easy to be like Eeyore.

Just look around you. People constantly make selfish choices, are hurtful, deceitful, conniving, and manipulative. Ya gotta love ‘em!

“Good morning, Pooh Bear,” said Eeyore gloomily. “If it is a good morning,” he said. “Which I doubt.”

Despite all that, I, dear reader, stubbornly insist on being thankful.

I’m thankful that my back (despite my trusty Chiropractor who is fond of exclaiming ‘It’s amazing you can still do all you do!”) still lets me enjoy long runs with my dog and hot yoga. I’m thankful my wife just said she’s happy to see me. I’m thankful for Sarah, in our office, who solved a client problem at 7:30 last night.

I have a lot to be thankful for and, it turns out, that’s a good thing.

Being thankful packs a host of wonderful benefits ranging from better health, stronger relationships, reduced stress and even recovering from trauma.

“Without gratitude, life can be lonely, depressing and impoverished,” Robert Emmons, Ph.D Thanks, how the new science of gratitude can make you happier

And being thankful can make you more successful at work.


When we work we overcome odds in order to reach some goal. So far, so good. And then we do it again.

At the same time we choose what we focus on. Focus on goals and progress and optimism, gratitude, and well-being start flowing.

Focus on other people, problems, frustrations and self-doubt? You’re screwed.

The human condition is designed to spot a problem and fixate on it. We’re like Cyclops with his laser eyes burning through obstacles, instead of looking for alternatives.

Maybe this is you:

You started today hunched over your keyboard swearing you would punch away at your InBox until, damn it, you reached the holy grail of “InBox Zero”.

Your team are dragging their feet on the new policy design. You’re frustrated, full of blame. So you decide to do it on your own.

Sales of your new [fill in blank here] are stalled – instead of giving attention to the customers you already have, you decide to pound the market with more emails and promotions.

You slept in, had to cut your run short, and now, some eight hours later, you’re still beating yourself for getting off to a bad start.

“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.” Mark Twain

Give your grateful bones a shake. Being thankful is a gift you give yourself anytime AND it’s a skill you can learn.


According to Sonja Lyubomirsky (The How Of Happiness), 40% of our propensity for happiness is by choice (50% is based on a genetic set point, 10% from life circumstances). If we assume being thankful and being happy walk hand-in-hand, then this is good news.

Being thankful (and reaping all the juicy benefits listed above) can be as simple as 1, 2, 3, 4:

  1. Notice what you’re feeling and pause. This first step catches any downward spiral of emotion and trains your brain to break the pattern.
  2. Ask “Do my feelings serve me?” (if it helps, imagine your $200/hour counsellor just leaned in and, with a mischievous squint in his eye, asked that question.)
  3. Focus on one good thing and choose to be thankful. Maybe the sun is out, your health is better, your feet don’t stink – there’s always something to be thankful for. Choose to be thankful. Breath and take it in.
  4. Take that feeling and move on. Re-engage with the person or task or challenge in front of you, but now from a place of being thankful.

If it helps, imagine your $200/hour counsellor just leaned in and, with a mischievous squint in his eye, asked that question.


Every morning I pop a vitamin C with a dose of thankfulness and I’m good to go.

What about you? What can you be thankful for?