Keep a Good Things Notebook at Your Desk

Just the other day, I was stuck in the middle of a stressful project. My brain was fried. I could barely see straight. I could actually feel my neck muscles getting tighter.

I stopped what I was doing and wrote down 5 things I was grateful for.

  • My comfortable pants.
  • My wife – who was probably starting to cook me dinner.
  • My bunghole of a dog – who has forced me to be more relaxed with my frustration.
  • My thumb – because it looked really cool at that moment.
  • My brother – who always knows what to say to make me feel good about myself.

It worked. I calmed down, walked around to stretch my legs, then came back to my desk and finished the part of the project that I needed to email to my co-worker.

I’ve been doing this for a while now, but I think this technique could really help others as well. If you keep a “Good Things” notebook, make sure you just write down a few quick things and the reasons why you enjoy them. There’s no need to go into a whole story. If you want this little habit to become a part of your routine, you need to make it as easy and enjoyable as possible.

Deborah Norville, the New York Times bestselling author of Thank You Power: Making the Science of Gratitude Work for You, was interviewed by Gretchen Rubin of the Happiness Project. In the interview she made a great case for this practice.

I keep a little booklet, the size of a check book, in my purse and I 'll jot things down randomly during the day...often when I'm stuck in traffic going cross town. It works for a couple of reasons: One, it distracts me from whatever it is that is delaying me. Two, it forces me to go back through my day and find the 'bright spots' - of which there are many.”

So next time you are feeling sad, overwhelmed or angry then try keeping a “Good Things” notebook at your desk, when you need a perspective change.


Havi of the Fluent Self wrote a brilliant piece about hiring help. Go check it out.


The Happy at Work Project is launched and it's a success. I've received so many wonderful emails. I never realized how many people I was helping. One email almost brought me to tears. That's why I created this blog. This reader interaction has spurred me to launch more ideas like this so stay tuned. If you want a little assistance with your Happy at Work Project, I'll send you my Work Happy Now Weekly Planner with a list of Resolutions. Just email me karl (AT) workhappynow (DOT) come and write "Work Happy Now Weekly Planner" in the subject area.


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Image courtesy of Elkit