Count your blessings

Count Your Blessings

journal“That sure was a difficult conversation,” Tim Ferriss said to himself. He had just talked to his parents about why a how-to-commit-suicide book had been checked out at the Princeton library. He was living near the campus he had been attending for a few years, so it was surprising the notification went to his parents house. But he was not currently enrolled and, for whatever reason, an availability notice was sent to his parents first.

That sure was fortunate.

Tim had been working on his thesis and felt pressured to include a lot of the original research in Japanese. This was going to take him a lot longer than he had anticipated. He was considering taking a year to regroup and take a break from the stress of school. But then one of his professors gave Tim an ultimatum – because he was “copping out” and leaving school –  and led Tim to believe his grade would suffer, no matter what the outcome of the paper. It seemed that all the years of schooling before this point, where he had tried so hard to get good grades and perform at a high level, were now in jeopardy because he wouldn’t be able to finish his thesis in time.

With the pressure mounting, Tim walked away from school for a year and found himself considering an escape that, after talking to his parents, he realized was not the answer.

“What I learned was by considering (suicide), I was being very selfish and I was looking at suicide as a solution to my problems,” Tim said on a podcast with Derek Halpern in May 2015. “I had the belief that it couldn’t get any worse, and therefore, I should take my own life or that I was never going to recover.”

That is the lie of depression.

Thankfully for Tim – and the millions of readers he has helped with his books, speeches and work over the years since that incident – he didn’t go through with it. He said he learned that the lows are not permanent. The danger with depression is that it feels like you will never recover from the current state of things and therefore you will always be a failure.

That’s not the case at all.

Tim went on to publish New York Times best sellers, start his own business, and invests in start-ups to help others succeed. There are still lows to go with the highs, but Tim has learned a few techniques to help him get through the ups and downs. Here is one.

“I use a journal called The 5-Minute Journal,” Tim said in the podcast. “It was actually made by somebody who read The 4-Hour Workweek, funny enough. It allows me to increase my focus from a productivity standpoint, but also count my blessings for just a few minutes every morning and when I go to bed at night. Literally, everyone has time for this. This is five minutes or less each day in two short segments. That is one of the cheapest types of insurance for avoiding falling too far psychologically and emotionally.”

This is how it works: Each morning write down a few blessings in your life. Then each night write down a few things that went well that day.

“Even if they’re very small things,” Tim explained. “(For example, I saw a beautiful tree in the park as I was walking from A to B. It’s really useful for maintaining a greater sense of control, equilibrium and appreciation which I think is very easy to lose.”

For you:

So many people – CEOs, workers, Dads, Moms, teenagers – deal with depression. I personally have dealt it from time to time. Keeping a journal is a good exercise to reflect on your life. Tim’s suggestion of counting your blessings each morning and then reflecting on the good things that happened at the end of the day will help keep you from believing the lies of depression.

Looking for the good will help you find the mindset to succeed. No matter what you are trying to accomplish, depression will hold you back. Keeping a proper, positive perspective will help you move forward.


I started writing short stories in elementary school, starting with a short story about twin track athletes. In college, I wrote for the college newspaper and studied communications. My first job out of college was with a magazine as an assistant editor, where I started a comic strip called City Boy. My first published work, was a short essay entitled, Dream with Me, published in “The Art of Service” booklet put out by the Thayne Center for Service and Learning. I also published a three part series for families called “Family Parables – Wise Man Foolish Man.” This set is designed to be used by families to create discussion and learning as a family. I soon will publish my first novel, Love Like Alzheimer’s, a story of a family that is learning to love deeper as their beloved grandmother struggles with Alzheimer’s disease.

2 thoughts on “Count your blessings
  1. Brent Dalley says:

    While I find this story interesting, without further explanation by the author, one could come away with the false notion that depression is just feeling sad and little mental, feel good bromides, dropped in your thought cycle will cure your depression. Nothing is further from the truth! Depression, as diagnosed by a clinician is a mental disorder. For the casual reader that suffers from Deep Depression Disorder the notion that he can be cured by thinking grateful thoughts is another suicide just waiting to happen.

    • Ryan says:

      Thank you for your comment. I’m sorry if you thought I was suggesting a cure all for depression. If you suffer from deep depression, you should seek professional help as should someone with diabetes or heart disease. And just like those other diseases you need to address them with a change in habits. With depression, you need to identify your triggers and then come up with a plan to address them.
      I don’t suggest that writing down a couple happy thoughts will cure your depression, especially if it’s severe, but changing your attitude through positive habits will go a long way to keeping those dark days at bay. Then if medication is needed, you already have the mental tools to make your recovery more complete. If strengthening your heart can help fight heart disease then positive mental exercises will help you fight a mental disease.

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