In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently linked with greater happiness. Gratitude can help us to feel more positive emotions, improve our health, relish good experiences and foster resilience.
We all have the opportunity to cultivate gratitude but with stress and anxiety increasing against the current backdrop of the recent pandemic, it can feel more difficult than ever to develop an “attitude of gratitude”.
So how can practising gratitude improve satisfaction with our lives? We caught up with iOS engineer, entrepreneur and founder of app ‘Gratitude Plus’, Daniel Shaffer, to find out.
Could you tell us a little bit about Gratitude Plus and what gave you the idea to create it?
Gratitude Plus is a community-based journaling app that helps you express gratitude and live happier. A year and a half ago, I was in a very negative, pessimistic mental state. It was a combination of a lot of different family and work pressures that built up and was taking a toll on me mentally and even physically – I was feeling stressed, tired, and sad, and I had back pains and trouble sleeping. I knew I needed to make some major changes to climb out of the hole.
Randomly, I was listening to a Tim Ferris podcast, and the specific episode was on gratitude. I began reading up on the positive benefits of gratitude. It was intriguing to learn that incorporating gratitude could help improve my wellbeing – and what did I have to lose by trying it?
When I began searching for an app to help me pick up this habit in a healthy way and find a community support system, there was nothing that even resembled a community for gratitude. I saw an exciting opportunity to develop a product that combined both of these concepts – simple journal and community-based gratitude platform – and so I built it. Gratitude has helped change my life and I hope the app will help others too.
What are some the features on the app that can help users practise daily gratitude?
Gratitude Plus has a personal, private gratitude journal with smart notifications to help you build a habit, as well as community features that support you on your wellness journey.
We encourage users to set a daily reminder for the time that works best for them. The private journal is easy to use and customizable – you can write your gratitudes in a quick list or use it more like a freeform journal. The digital journal is with you wherever you are, so you can write from your daily commute, during your travels, or on-the-go. This helps you develop a rhythm of writing and build a lasting habit.
Track your progress with streaks and milestones that encourage you to improve each day and continue building your habit. The community features let you read what members around the world are grateful for and get inspired by their progress. Receive positive notes of support from other members which feels good, and send others messages too. You can also share gratitudes with family and friends in private groups called Circles and keep each other on track to live happier.
We are experiencing some really surreal and anxiety-provoking times in light of COVID-19. How could Gratitude Plus support someone during this time?
During difficult times like this, it’s easy to focus on the negative and become disconnected from your community. At a time when we are encouraged to socially distance ourselves, gratitude can bring us closer together and have a positive impact on both our own and others’ wellbeing.
Practising gratitude can keep you grounded during these stressful times and is key to helping you feel happier and even healthier day-to-day. Write in your journal. See what other members are grateful for around the world. Send a random positive note to someone. Engage in deeper conversation with a friend or loved one by sending a Letter of Gratitude.
All of these small actions have large positive impacts and can help improve your wellbeing and health during the COVID-19 crisis.
How long do you suggest using the app before you start to notice positive changes? How might someone feel different after practising gratitude each day?
On average, it takes around 66 days to build a habit. The great thing about practising gratitude is that you can immediately feel more positive and happier as you’re writing in the journal. It helps you focus on the positive aspects of your life (no matter how large or small), so it might put a smile on your face as you’re writing. And the community can also make you feel happy – like sending and receiving positive notes or reading gratitudes from your friends, family, and other members. Gratitude won’t stop you from never feeling down, but over time your default outlook could change to looking at the glass half full vs. half empty.
We really love the design aesthetic of the app. In a really noisy online world, it really does well at simplifying everything right down so you don’t feel overwhelmed. Was this an important part of the design process?
Thanks! The simplicity and elegant design is a core part of the product. Technology needs to get out of the way to really help the user accomplish a goal- in our case expressing gratitude and living happier. Our members don’t want to use an “app”. They want to use a tool to help them. We want you to feel like you are writing in a leatherbound book with a pen and paper, so it’s satisfying and safe to write in.
How much does Gratitude Plus cost and where can we download it? (I shall add a click link to download at the base of feature too)
Gratitude Plus is free to download and use! We offer a premium version of the app that includes backup, journal search, passcode lock, and some other cool features. You can download the app for free at http://gratitudeplusapp.com
Do you anticipate creating an android version any time soon?
We’re in the process of developing an Android app and it should be available next month!
For those who aren’t convinced that practising gratitude daily is in fact, lifechanging. What would you say to try and convince them otherwise?
Research shows that practising gratitude is one of the easiest ways to boost your happiness and well-being. In fact, gratitude has been scientifically proven to have positive effects on the following aspects of our lives: mental health, physical health, relationships, self-esteem, resilience, empathy, and much more.
Despite its importance, people tend to underestimate how positively gratitude can impact their lives because it is difficult to build a daily habit – especially one whose impact is seen over a longer period of time. That’s why we designed Gratitude Plus to break down these barriers and make your gratitude practice so easy you can’t not do it. Try it out and see how you feel.
You can read more about the science of gratitude at https://gratitudeplusapp.com/benefits
Could you leave us with 3 things you are grateful for right now?
Today I’m grateful for:
- Cooking a nice juicy burger for dinner 🙂
- Catching up on some reading – a book called On the Road. It’s a nice way to decompress.
- First responders and people on the front lines (nurses, doctors, officers, paramedics, among others) around the world working non-stop to help people affected by this terrible virus.