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Show HN: Three Things Daily – Make gratitude a daily habit (threethingsdaily.xyz)
121 points by crystalcamarao 45 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 100 comments


Do you want to become better at being grateful?

I built a simple site where you can list 3 things you’re grateful for that day.

Research shows that being grateful makes you happier and healthier. I want to help people be more grateful, especially people who are depressed.

I’d appreciate your comments.


There's a lot of great research on the topic of happiness - it's the field of Positive Psychology

A great "how to" book is: The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want by Sonja Lyubomirsky (a Ph.D. researcher in the field of study) http://thehowofhappiness.com -- this book shares the specific advice you share in your comment.

A lot of great books I can recommend as well, e.g. Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert and The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom by Jonathan Haidt.

Sounds interesting. Thanks for sharing! I’m adding that book on Goodreads now.

Nice idea! I remember in my first month or two of therapy, my therapist basically kept training me to list 3 things to be grateful for, and I was mostly annoyed about how much of the therapy was about that.

But, it turned out to be very effective, and being 'forced' to do my homework paid off. She later explained that she usually starts out with this 'exercise' because most of her clients are not just dealing with their particular issues, but also with those issues festering and affecting their sense of self-worth and day-to-day thinking process. And helping her clients improve in that area generally made it much easier and effective when dealing with the particulars.

I also like that it's 3 rather than "list 10". There's some research on this: when people try 3, it's rather easy to succeed. If they try 10, they might find it hard, and if they run out of "good" things to list before finishing, they may erroneously conclude they have it pretty bad.

Psychology is rather funny - good to study it empirically! I'm so thankful there are so many Ph.D. researchers who take it seriously and contribute to the general knowledge by writing books for the general public.

Great insight! I guess it’s part of why it’s doable as a habit. As James Clear pointed out in Atomic Habits, “make it easy”. Thanks for sharing!

This is awesome. I've wanted something like this for years. Thanks so much for building it.

Awww. Thanks for making my day!

Very minor suggestion, but using bullets and numbering is a bit visually redundant. I would probably choose one or the other vs both.

Beyond that, really fun idea. It makes me happy to see an app idea with a more humanistic goal.

Sorry about that, something’s wrong with the code. Thanks for sharing!

  Research shows that if you list at least three things you’re grateful for everyday, you will significantly improve your mental health.
Does it really, or does this line just sound good? If you're going to make a claim like this, you should probably link to peer-reviewed research that backs this up.

Thanks for sharing! Here's something I found to add to that: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/313845439_%27The_Th...

That's great, exactly what I was looking for. OP should link to something like this.

Yes, that's a very good suggestion. Thanks for sharing!

Any particular reason you shared this? A bit confused how it’s relevant.

Even peer reviewed research won't make me believe claims like that. Experimental psychology seems a field plagued by replicability crisis, and frankly I think the field is just a self perpetuating paper mill for those in it, and a futile pursuit.

Psychology in my view needs a theoritical approach. Did Freud, William James etc need to do experiments with 30 graduate students to study about the working of the mind, and behaviour of people?.

With no experimental validation my theory is as good as Freud’s theory for all intents and purposes. Maybe we should be thinking around improving experimental methodology instead? Then we can try to come up with complex theories and test them.

Without resorting to experiments, theories can be valuable in themselves, their soundness of argument, their coherence, and them not leading to confounding and condtradictory predictions can guide us as to their validity.

There is value in approaching problems analytically rather than resorting to empirical methods.

Modern psychology is heavily driven by both theory and empiric techniques. The theories themselves are rich and generally cohesive, but without empirical validation, they are essentially bare philosophy. Of course they aren't as water tight as the theories and observations of physics, but if you spend any time in the core psychological literature, you'll find a ton of theoretical work.

Spotted a mathematician. ;-)

> theories can be valuable in themselves

Maybe they can be (in pure mathematics, or philosophy, as the sibling comment points out), but not if your end-goal is to apply your theory or its predictions in the real world. Then suddenly the soundest and most coherent of theories can fall apart.

> There is value in approaching problems analytically rather than resorting to empirical methods.

Sure, but whether your arrive at your predictions analytically or empirically it does not preclude you from testing them experimentally.

Just as it is important to be exact on what a pvalue shows and what it does not, it is equally important to be precise on what "replication crisis" means, and what it does not.

Specifically what it means is that the current binary system for describing significance is built precisely in such a way that even in the case of true effects, the probability that two studies would disagree could be as high as 50%. Therefore we need better metrics to describe the evidence. What it does NOT mean, is that all the research conducted is sham and worthless.

Specifically, if one study finds p=0.045 and another finds p=0.055, then the two studies will be in conflict (i.e. failure to replicate). But to use those pvalues to then claim "there is no evidence of an effect" shows a misunderstanding of the whole process, since a pvalue of 0.055 is actually pretty good evidence (just not as good as our arbitrary threshold).

Popularisation of the term "replication crisis" as a term is part of the problem if you ask me. It points the finger completely in the wrong direction.

I am a bit skeptic when it comes to these things. But, I have been doing a 1 min "prayer" every day while taking a shower in the morning. I remind myself how well I am off compared to many people and what a great family I have etc. It has really helped me to start the day with a calmer mind.

Yes, I think it does help. Thanks for sharing!

Not OP, but it seems to be a well-researched topic ("Gratitude and well-being: A review and theoretical integration" - https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/pdfs/GratitudePDFs/2Wood-Gr... ) from 1930's onward!

  Social scientists have focused on gratitude since the 1930s (Baumgarten-Tramer, 1938; Bergler, 1945, 1950; Gouldner, 1960; Heider, 1958; Schwartz, 1967; Simmel, 1950). Though it has been considered fundamental to the maintenance of reciprocity obligations between people (Gouldner, 1960; Simmel, 1950) and evolutionarily adaptive for its promotion of altruistic behavior (Trivers, 1971), the bulk of empirical research occurred over the past dozen years because psychological research was long dominated by a focus on pathology rather than flourishing (Seligman & Csik- szentmihalyi, 2000). Two classic studies—showing that expressing and experiencing gratitude bring peace of mind, satisfying personal relationships, and well-being (Emmons & McCullough, 2003; McCullough et al., 2002)—catalyzed the field, and since then a girth of research on gratitude and its applications have emerged.
Source: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/279403394_Gratitude...

That’s super helpful. Thanks for sharing!

Mandatory, this is anecdotal...

I do this every morning when I wake up and have for a good year or so.

I honestly don't notice much of a difference.

Not anecdotal, please see links to research in other comments.

Furthermore, just because something doesn't work for you, doesn't mean it doesn't work for others. Additionally, unless you've been keeping a log before and after you started the interventions, you should be at least skeptical about the difference you expect. It's entirely possible you got better, adjusted to the norm, and just think you feel as good as you normally do - while your "normal" is better than before.

Finally, the effect is more likely to be pronounced in people feeling worse than average. If your life is fantastic, you might not get much of a benefit from an intervention that has otherwise strong effects on people.

Makes sense. Thanks for sharing!

Fair enough

Sorry to hear that. Thanks for sharing!

This is anecdata but I know a lot of people that AA has worked for (tens of years of sobriety) attribute a portion of their success and sanity on doing a daily gratitude list.

That’s nice to know. Thanks for sharing!

I hear what you're saying but ... have you tried it? Seems like a simple enough exercise. Heck, maybe I'll try it.

I have, and I disagree.

Maybe it's because my outlook is generally one of being grateful, so I may have already received the benefits without this exercise.

In any case, I'd be wary of any claims like this unless someone tries it for at least 6 months. I expect initially one will get benefits but after N months it fizzles away.

I'm going to give it a go with the old pencil / paper. Hopefully, if it works and then fizzles away, it'll fizzle because i've gained the benefit. Six months tho - might be tough.

I've tried it a few times when I've been in periods of relative depression, either with the paper 5 minute journal or with the app of the same name. The habit lasts for a week and then fades away as I start to get engaged in life gain. Maybe that would have happened without the journaling, but it's such a low cost exercise and it feels like it makes a difference.

Yes, it does feel that way for me too. Thanks for sharing!

Good luck and thanks for sharing!

Maybe it depends on a lot of factors. Thanks for sharing!

I like the idea of this, but frankly the necessity of a login is too big of a barrier for me.

I've never understood dedicating a whole darn website to such simple concepts. Perhaps that's why I'm not rich.

It's three things! Just write them down somewhere. Heck, put them in a text file and check it into git.

I ran into a similar mindset with someone asking about BMI on another forum I frequent and someone suggested a website. It's two math operations! Just open the calculator on your phone (yes, even flip phones have one), or on the computer you're reading this on.

ETA: For those wondering, here's the three things as I heard them:

  1. Something that made you smile or happy:
  2. Something you are grateful for:
  3. Something you did well:

I guess part of my idea was to build a community committed to practicing gratitude. Yes, it's perfectly simple to do it on your own. But you'd be doing it on your own. :) Thanks for sharing!

FWIW I like this idea - seeing other peoples’ gratitude serves as a good reminder for the things I should be grateful for in my own life. Lovely app!

Yes it is a good reminder, isn't it. Thanks for sharing!

Yes you can put it on wall. But just look at that things listed by other. Even reading them made me feel good. Made me realize some things I take for granted. It's nice and simple project.

Glad it makes you feel good. Thanks for sharing!

Thinking about this more... the barrier is big for me because this type of social sharing i dont find value in. for those that do, i suspect that enabling them to share on platforms that are more popular could be useful.

Or, is there value in aggregating things that people say to help those who are struggling to find a reason to be grateful. .. turn that into a weekly trend line. are people more grateful for their health during a pandemic? are people more grateful for their spouse in the summer? that sort of stuff could be interesting.

That makes sense. Social sharing is enabled at the single post page level.

As for the trends idea, that sounds brilliant. Will consider it for the future. Thanks for sharing!

I understand, I was thinking of adding guest/anonymous posting too. Thanks for sharing!


I see it is a common opinion. Will definitely look into adding guest posting, thanks for sharing!

One recurring theme: people grateful to wake up for another day.

Definitely something I take for granted. It’s good to be reminded each day is a gift.

The real recurring theme is that "I", "me", or "my" ends up appearing a minimum of one time per person and day.

After decades of severe depression, it isn't entirely surprising to me that there must be an "I" to experience positive things in order for gratitude to give a lasting impact to the mood.

"I'm grateful for people who remove landmines, for talented artists creating beauty in the world, for little caring gestures that strangers have for each other." But this reads more abstractly than when there's a person to actually experience its consequences directly, and it feels very different from the inside too as it holds little connection to the self.

It's a good habit nonetheless, because if anything it is a mechanical workout to cultivate a capacity for empathy (for self in healthier people perhaps, but in general otherwise).

You make a good point! Being grateful for things that, as you put it, hold little connection to us surely helps because it makes us better people. Thanks for sharing!

Cotton sheets help to remind me. I don't know what people slept on in history (tho I hear that heather was good) but clean sheets and cotton pyjamas are fantastic.

Ah, that makes sense. Thanks for sharing!

Hi! Yes, it’s something we all take for granted. Thanks for checking it out!

"Is the cup half empty or half full?"

"Be happy you have a cup!"

I never thought of it that way. Thanks for sharing!

I have used Black Lotus app [0] and on multiple occasions, its novel framework called RARE (Reflect, Act, Reinforce and Evaluate) has helped me come out of the stress/anxiety I'd suddenly found myself trapped into.

There are different kinds of RARE goals depending on what you're going through at the moment (stress/lack of focus/mindfullness/etc) and each has its own duration (typically 21 days), during which you daily perform such activities like guided meditation, a guided breathing exercise, a random act of kindness, reading of some wisdom article/inspiring RAK story and many a times, expressing gratitude.

0: https://www.blacklotus.app/

Sounds great! All those sound like good habits. Thanks for sharing!

I've been using The Five Minute Journal [1] (on paper) for a while (definitely not every day) and it has a gratitude component. I do enjoy how it helps prompt me to change my perspective :)

[1] - https://www.intelligentchange.com/products/the-five-minute-j...

Can I ask how it prompts to change your perspective? I might want to implement that. It’s not clear to me based on the link you gave. Thanks for sharing!

For one thing, it asks you to list 3 amazing things that happened that day, which gets you to focus on the positive rather than the negative.

Our family’s religious tradition incorporates this type of communication every evening.

It is a delight as a parent to see how much joy it brings our children when they share with others what they are thankful for. It can be as simple as “blankets” and “blocks”, which I have witnessed and smiled about.

It brings me comfort knowing that our kids will have specifically communicated their gratitude in this way about 5000 times prior to entering high school.

In our area of the world, a large percentage of high school students are on anti-depression medication and the rates continue to rise. I hope this activity is one way to lean against that trend.

This. We pray and give thanks as a family multiple times per day. Not in an empty monotonous prayer but we all chime in things and people that we're thankful for. Simple and genuine.

Simple and genuine is the key. Thanks for sharing!

That’s a very good thing to teach your children. Thanks for sharing!

Been doing this for a couple years now... I still have no idea if it actually makes me happy, but I enjoy the practice of it. I also write three things I accomplished in the day, no matter how large or small.

I do that too! Most of the time my gratitude journal consists of the things I accomplished that day, because I'm grateful I even get things done (I have a disorder). Thanks for sharing!

I the only one who feels worse than before, it like all shit, sometimes life is shit. I'm not Cristian but I feel this frace encapusale my feelings Mark 9:24"I do believe; help my unbelief!"

Sorry to hear you feel that way. :(

Hey neat! I actually made something very similar but as a Chrome extension [1].

The issue I saw with doing this as a web app is there's nothing in a web app to actually force you to do the logging. You have to remember to do it which I didn't like.

[1] https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/three-gratitudes/p...

Yes that makes sense, my workaround with that was a daily reminder email. I’ll have to test if it works though. Thanks for sharing! Your app seems awesome!

My suggestion is that you gameify this. Add daily challenges, unlock achievements, and compete with others using the app in your area. Crush your friends at staying grateful and you get exclusive skins to download for the app. Really, engagement is the key.

I was thinking of that too. Thanks for sharing!

Don't. Keep it light hearted as it is now.

I see, I guess I will have to think more about it. Thanks for sharing!

Fwiw, I fuzzily recall a paper some years back, which suggested some benefited more from gratitude journaling weekly, rather than daily.

I'm no expert, but will look into it. Thanks for sharing!

I don’t want to read what other people are grateful for because it just reminds me that the things I’m missing are actually important. A piece of paper and a pen works better.

I think you'd find that a slight shift in perspective on this will do wonders. Try imagining that the person posting is your best friend on a good day. Or your mom. Or your dog. Or anyone/thing else you unconditionally hope receives good things in life. That might turn some of them into boosts to your happiness (I want good things for person x: imagine good things happening to person x = good thing for me).

That’s a great perspective to have! Thanks for sharing!

Seems like the site is an outlet for gratitude. So many people are practicing gratitude there!

Don’t doomscroll through their gratitudes if that’s distracting for you, and if pen and paper works better for you then that’s amazing!

Goal is to just be grateful :)

Yes that makes sense. Thanks for sharing!

It’s just toxic positivity and bragging. Gratitude is useful for people with bad lives to find something small to cheer themselves up. It’s not for healthy people who love their jobs and their family to flex on the people who can’t think of anything better than overnight oats to be grateful for. This site is not useful for anyone who actually needs help and I hate it.

I don’t believe it is anyone’s intention to brag here. Being grateful and expressing that grattitude does not necessarily equate to showing off. In fact most of the users use pseudonyms so if they really wanted to brag they would’ve done so using Facebook or something. Just my 2 cents. Thanks for sharing!

Just FYI that this post comes across quite aggressively. I assume it wasn’t your intention.

Hope you have a good day.

Looking at the best in everybody. Nice. Thanks for sharing!

I understand, the goal isn’t to compare yourself with others but to encourage each other. Thanks for sharing!

Very nice! Gratitude is good for the soul.

Hi! Yes it is. Thanks for checking it out!

What tech stack did you use?

Hi! I made it by mostly using no-code tools. It’s built using Wordpress. I used the plugins WP User Frontend Pro and Advanced Custom Fields Pro.

I am grateful for all the tools available to create quick websites :)

Yes, I am too!

Oh man, why oh why...

Care to elaborate?

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