What All Successful People Do at the Beginning of the Day—Do You?

What is the secret to happiness? This elusive emotion is something we consistently chase after, but is it a goal we should set in the first place? One person repeatedly asked the former question is psychologist Dan Gilbert, the Edgar Pierce professor of psychology at Harvard University. "When people ask about the secret of happiness and you tell them, Well, take more time in your social relationships, worry less about things and more about experiences, they kind of nod and look at you and say, But what about the secret? Because the secret of happiness is like the secret of dieting; there's no secret," he explained on NPR's TED Radio Hour.

Okay, so there is no secret, but there is a simple daily ritual you can do that's scientifically proven to bring more joy into your life: a gratitude list. In the same way that a vision board helps you achieve your goals, positive psychology research outlined in Harvard Health Publications shows that "gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness." This simple act helps people not only feel more positive but also improve their health, handle adversity, and build strong relationships—even on your worst day.

But what does it take to be truly grateful? Brother David Steindl-Rast says it all comes down to a very simple formula: Stop. Look. Go. "That's all," he said on the TED stage. "But how often do we stop? We rush through life. We don't stop. We miss the opportunity because we don't stop. We have to stop, we have to get quiet, and we have to build stop signs into our lives."

One stop sign you can start building into your life (and one that we personally swear by) is a gratitude list. Ahead, we share a few simple steps for getting started on yours today.