A.J. Jacobs — 10 Strategies to Be Happier Through Gratitude (#344)

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Photo by Lem Lattimer

“Paradoxically but wonderfully, focusing on someone else’s happiness will actually make you happier.” — A.J. Jacobs

A.J. Jacobs (@ajjacobs) takes over the show for a special episode. A.J. is a kindred guinea pig of self-experimentation who chronicles his shenanigans in books that seem to keep winding up as New York Times best sellers. The Know-It-All was about his quest to learn everything in the world. In The Year of Living Biblically, he tried to follow all the rules of the Bible as literally as possible. Drop Dead Healthy followed his well- (and ill-) advised experiments to become the healthiest person alive. My Life as an Experiment is about exactly what it sounds like, and It’s All Relative aimed to connect all of humanity in one family tree.

His latest book, Thanks a Thousand: A Gratitude Journey, chronicles his journey around the world to personally thank everyone along the supply chain who makes his morning cup of coffee a possibility: the farmer of the coffee beans, the barista, the designer of the logo for the coffee, the truck driver who transported the coffee beans, the guy who painted the yellow lines on the road so the truck wouldn’t veer into traffic, the inventor of the cardboard sleeve that goes around the coffee cup (aka the paper zarf) so you don’t burn your fingers, and on and on.

In this episode, A.J. will be taking us through 10 strategies for being happier through gratitude in these stressful times and his agreement to do so just builds upon the gratitude I already have for this man. I hope you enjoy, and if you benefit in some way from these strategies, please feel free to reach out and thank him.

Bonus: if you pre-order his latest book or let him know how much you’ve appreciated his earlier work, he may even personally thank you back with a handwritten card (details found here)!

#344: A.J. Jacobs — 10 Strategies to Be Happier Through Gratitude
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Want to learn more about A.J.’s creative process? — Listen to my interview with him in which we explore his experiments, tipping points in his life, how he learned to love marketing and much more! (Stream below or right-click here to download):


This episode is brought to you by Charlotte’s Web, which makes a CBD oil, a hemp extract, that has become one of my go-to tools. Charlotte’s Web won’t get you high, but it does have some pretty powerful benefits, and it works with your body’s existing endocannabinoid system. Some of the most common uses are for relief from everyday stressors, help in supporting restful sleep, and to bring about a sense of calm and focus.

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QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…

SELECTED LINKS FROM THE EPISODE

  • Connect with A.J. Jacobs:

Website | Twitter | Facebook

SHOW NOTES

  • A.J. Jacobs explains the premise of his new book, Thanks a Thousand, details a few of his previous adventures for the uninitiated, and shares his 10 strategies for being happier in these super stressful times. [06:02]
  • “So it is not happiness that makes us grateful. It’s gratefulness that makes us happy.” -David Steindl-Rast [Ed. Note: A.J. admits after recording the episode that he confused David Rendall with David Steindl-Rast while recording this episode, and adds: “Thanks to David Rendell and David Steindl-Rast for their (hopeful) forgiveness.”] [08:58]
  • Strategy #1: Declare War on the Negative Bias. [14:19]
  • Strategy #2: The Art of Savoring. [19:34]
  • Strategy #3: Practice Six Degrees of Thankfulness. [23:23]
  • Strategy #4: Don’t Forget You’re Going to Die. [28:40]
  • Strategy #5: Using Gratitude to Fall Asleep. [31:20]
  • Strategy #6: Thou Shalt Not Have Nostalgia. [32:20]
  • Strategy #7: Try to Discover the Hidden Masterpieces All Around You. [35:42]
  • Strategy #8: Go Analog. [37:32]
  • Strategy #9: Fake It until You Feel It. [41:05]
  • Strategy #10: Use Gratitude as a Spark to Action. [42:20]

PEOPLE MENTIONED

Posted on: November 5, 2018.

Please check out Tribe of Mentors, my newest book, which shares short, tactical life advice from 100+ world-class performers. Many of the world's most famous entrepreneurs, athletes, investors, poker players, and artists are part of the book. The tips and strategies in Tribe of Mentors have already changed my life, and I hope the same for you. Click here for a sample chapter and full details. Roughly 90% of the guests have never appeared on my podcast.

Who was interviewed? Here's a very partial list: tech icons (founders of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Craigslist, Pinterest, Spotify, Salesforce, Dropbox, and more), Jimmy Fallon, Arianna Huffington, Brandon Stanton (Humans of New York), Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Ben Stiller, Maurice Ashley (first African-American Grandmaster of chess), Brené Brown (researcher and bestselling author), Rick Rubin (legendary music producer), Temple Grandin (animal behavior expert and autism activist), Franklin Leonard (The Black List), Dara Torres (12-time Olympic medalist in swimming), David Lynch (director), Kelly Slater (surfing legend), Bozoma Saint John (Beats/Apple/Uber), Lewis Cantley (famed cancer researcher), Maria Sharapova, Chris Anderson (curator of TED), Terry Crews, Greg Norman (golf icon), Vitalik Buterin (creator of Ethereum), and nearly 100 more. Check it all out by clicking here.

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15 comments on “A.J. Jacobs — 10 Strategies to Be Happier Through Gratitude (#344)

  1. I am deeply grateful for this wonderfully presented podcast. I can’t quite put my finger on why, but I was very touched that A.J. brought up how handy arms are.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m very grateful for this wonderfully presented podcast. Also, I can’t put my finger on why, but I thought it was touching how A.J. brought up the handiness of arms.

    Like

  3. My long-time favorite quote is “It’s easier to act your way in to an new way of thinking than to think your way to a new way of acting.” I dont believe it originated with the founder of Habitat and my just be unattributable. I first heard it in the mid 1800’s from a cognitive behavioral psychotherapist Dr Pat Allen from Newport Beach California. She still specializes in relationship therapy and addictive behaviors, as a recovering alcoholic addict. I also heard the quote repeated then and over the years in 12 step meeting rooms. No matter its derivation, it’s a revelation for most everyone hearing it for the first time, just as it was for Tim Ferriss.

    Like

  4. So love how he’s gone on quests and experimentations in this way. What a rich and fulfilling way to live your life, learn and teach otherws.

    Like

  5. I love the Just One Thing. In meetings, books, conversations, random interactions, fitness classes…remembering just one positive thing that I can take away.

    Like

  6. A.J., Your 10 strategies for rethinking gratitude were illuminating. It really is a must to cultivate gratitude isn’t it–that is, if we’re genuinely interested in understanding the different aspects of enduring happiness? Every day I find myself so easily swept away along the high rapids of life that I forget how easily a “thank you” or just simply stopping for a second and appreciating the wonders right under my nose. You got me paying attention more. Now let’s see if my old lizard brain can stick to the strategies you’ve so thoughtfully laid out (practicing Strategy #9 especially will be key). Thanks a Thousand to you Sir for presenting such a relevant podcast in today’s world! I remain grateful.

    Like

  7. I have a request that you interview an addiction specialist, Dr Hyla Cass. She basically matches a supplement (eg amnio acid) with an addiction to stop cravings.

    For alcoholics (also sugar) that’s l glutamine. I swear everyone needs to hear about how this judgement free addiction treatment works so we can change the world.

    Like

  8. I would agree that applying yourself in helping others pays equal amounts of happiness for oneself. I frequently volunteer at a soup kitchen, and I’ve learned over the years it’s one of the most important activities on my calendar each month.

    Like

  9. Tim, I want to be the fill-in for your next absent podcast. Tell me all I need to do for the opportunity. I am grateful in advance for your time and guidance if you choose to reach out. I can be contacted through the email provided.

    -Laci

    Like

  10. Hi! I just watched the video you posted with Rebecca Brachman on Treating Depression and Post Traumatic Stress and I need to know how to find a doctor who can help me; my stress reliance is very low and I’m heading into a funk. I want to know more about ketamines. Especially what’s the likelihood that I can get treatment.

    Like

  11. Top Ten Reasons Why I’m Grateful for This Episode

    1. AJ sounds like he’s smiling the ENTIRE time.
    2. The ABCs of Zzzzz Exercise!
    3. It made my bus wait delightful.
    4. I noticed that although the bus was late (as usual) it eventually arrived!
    5. It’s a list. I LOVE lists!
    6. It’s bite sized and left me wanting more–I’ve listened to it thrice in 24 hours.
    7. The Coffee Tasting made me laugh.
    8. AJ sounds like he’s a great father and that makes me happy.
    9. I can listen to it when I’m ready to start my day or go to sleep. It’s galvanizing and meditative.
    10. I can thank the important people in my life by sharing it.

    Like