What I learned experimenting with a gratitude journal for 6 months this year

Back in 2021 I started a kind of creative project I’d never done before. It was a ‘meta’ creative project — a project that required me to start and finish a new creative project every two weeks. I called it the ‘Life Sprint Project’ and it lasted for all of four sprints (or about eight weeks). In that time, though, I managed to:

  • Write and publish 12 new short stories

Although I lost the momentum of starting and finishing a new creative thing every two weeks, I kept wanting to get it back. I went back and forth on writing and publishing a second collection of short stories for a very long time. I guess a year’s worth given where we are now! But it never came to be. I haven’t written a single story, beginning to end, all year.

But I have kept the creative flame alive. A tad. Through a little web project called ‘Delightful Things’.

Delightful Things was my low effort stab at doing two things at once:

  1. Doing something creative — By turning what easily could’ve just been a private note on my phone into a public-facing “project”.

All I tried to do was write down one cool or nice thing from my day, every day, since the 19th of July. I failed that. There are many days I’ve missed. But overall, it’s helped paint a really interesting picture. Since I have an absolutely horrendous memory, and I don’t usually journal in any other format, or take a lot of random photos throughout my day-to-day life, I forget most of my experiences. Going back through this has helped bring to mind a number of fun things I’d otherwise forgotten.

But the other great thing about this project is that I can go back and group things into topics. And see what I really liked this year! Which is fun for my own interest, but also allows me to pull together a list of what I might consider recommendations to others.

Here’s what I found…

🤖 4 digital products that changed the game

I don’t often “love” a digital product. I’m rarely going to be an ambassador for a tool I use at work, or a word-of-mouth referrer for an app I play around with on my phone. I rarely leave reviews, and I’m never going to give a particularly high NPS rating. But these four bits of tech are things I consider convenience gamechangers.

  • Spotify — For all your daily music listening needs. Needs no introduction.

🍕 13 restaurants I loved

There were many more great places I enjoyed this year, but these were the ones that were my delightful thing of the day. I’m not a super fancy foodie man, but I rate every single one of these places for one reason or another. (Note: Some might consider my use of the term “restaurant” quite loose here.)

  • My Neighbours the Dumplings — Everything is fab. Order a bunch. Spend a lot. (Don’t skip on the cocktails.)

And pizza had such a presence, I felt it deserved its own sub-list.

  • The Hayman’s Kitchen — Literally one of the best pizzas I’ve ever had in my life. The cheese was incredible. And all at such an unexpected little family-run place in Kent.

🥐 14 foods that had a moment

These are all little bundles of delight.

  • Blueberry mochi — Many mochis are fab, actually. I also specifically rate milk mochi.

☕️ 3 coffee spots, 3 coffee experiences, and 1 specific coffee

The spots:

  • Ngopi — An Indonesian coffee shop in London. With my favourite barista in the world.

The experiences:

  • 1 € espresso in Italy — It’s not my favourite way of drinking coffee, but I do quite miss the Italian coffee bar experience now I’m back in London.

The coffee:

  • A Starbucks pumpkin spice latte — I know, I know. But I have one every year to mark the beginning of Autumn. It’s a little tradition. And traditions can be fun.

🍸 Everything drinks-related (5 tipples, 7 places)

The tipples:

  • Clase Azul Reposado tequila — This changed my view of what tequila could be.

The places:

  • Tayēr + Elementary — Apparently the second best bar in the world. Love their cocktails, and given their location in the distinctly more businessy Old Street area of London, it’s not too difficult to get in.

🛠 3 physical products I rate

There are very few physical products in general that I really, really rate. Like, specific products. There could be a few brands, or perhaps a category/type of product I like, but it’s rarely one specific thing. These are the ones that made my year:

  • AirPods — Or decent wireless earbuds in general. Phone calls are infinitely better, with both hands free and no cord to get tangled on anything. (A gamechanger in my headphone-snag-prone flat.)

🍿 5 bits of media that made the cut

Don’t read too much into this. I consumed WAY more media than this, this year. And I’m sure there is plenty that was better than these. But on the day, these made my delightful things list.

1 film:

  • Bullet Train — A mindless, fun, action-packed romp, with a good bit of humour to boot. All set on a train in Japan.

1 YouTuber:

  • Jordan Stoddard — Not a bit of media, but a person creating some. Cute, unique, subtly magical little stories about his friends.

3 podcasts:

  • The Truth — A great podcast that describes itself better than I ever could. “The Truth makes movies for your ears: short stories that are sometimes dark, sometimes funny, and always intriguing.”

🕺 Some great days and nights out

Celebrating with friends and family:

  • 3 weddings

Travelling about:

Enjoying all kinds of arts:

Activities that are a bit of fun:

❤️ The little things

Stepping away from the more commercialised things above, these were the little things in life that made my day.

  • A relaxed, sunny Sunday morning stroll

👇 See new delightful things every day

Head over to Delightful Things to see more about the above, and a new delightful thing every day.

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Hi! 👋 I’m a Content Lead, and creator of miscellaneous things. See it all at bradthewebsite.com.

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Brad Ewin

Hi! 👋 I’m a Content Lead, and creator of miscellaneous things. See it all at bradthewebsite.com.