Why It’s So Hard for Guys to Be Grateful

“Why do you keep telling me I need to start a gratitude journal? 1) I’m not a six-year-old girl, I don’t journal and 2) I hate you.” —Zander Fryer, 2015

Here’s the deal: gratitude and appreciation are scientifically proven to have benefits in nearly every aspect of your life, but most guys (including myself) struggle to be grateful in our daily lives.

Gratitude Is Just Not Manly

So, for guys everywhere, let me remind you why it’s important to be grateful and explain why it’s so hard for us to make that happen.

I’m sure you’ve skimmed one of the thousands of articles online about the “37 Benefits to Bringing More Gratitude and Appreciation into Your Life.” And you probably even took a closer look at “6 Ways to Practice Gratitude Daily.”  It’s ok to admit it—I’ve read dozens of articles like that. And if you haven’t, I summarized one from Happierhuman.com below.

Gratitude and appreciation have been extensively studied and benefit nearly every aspect of your life, including:

  • Personality: You’ll be more optimistic, less materialistic, less self-centered, and have higher self-esteem.
  • Physiological Health: You’ll sleep better, be more energetic, and have a higher functioning immune system.
  • Emotional State: You’ll be more resilient, relaxed, and happier.
  • Social Environment: You’ll be more friendly/approachable, more respected, and have closer relationships.
  • Career: You’ll have better communication skills, improved decision making, and an increased ability to achieve your goals

You probably also noticed that there are dozens of simple ways to start being more grateful today. For example:

  • Carrying a physical token of gratitude as a reminder (a stone, crystal, pendant, etc.).
  • Making a conscious effort to appreciate someone new every day.
  • Writing hand written thank-you cards whenever you can.
  • Starting a gratitude journal to document what you’re grateful for every day.

“Great, I get it. Gratitude makes EVERYTHING better, and I can have more with about 5 minutes of practice a day. So, why won’t I do anything about it?”

Answer: Gratitude is just hard for guys. Regardless of how educated we are and how simple the solutions, we’re fighting a losing battle.

For decades, we have been socially and culturally programmed about what it means to be a man. And carrying around a heart-shaped stone, writing thank-you cards, and starting a journal are just not manly.

Seems obvious now, doesn’t it?  No matter how simple the solution and no matter how endless the benefits, we won’t do it.

Think of the manliest men on any TV show or cartoon you grew up watching. Do you remember a heart-shaped pendant hanging around the necks of those emotionless, strong-willed, and stoic figures? Yeah, me neither.

How about at home? I’m not sure about your family life, but my mom was always the one telling me, “Honey, don’t forget to say thank you.” My dad didn’t give a shit. Seriously, zero shits given.

How about at school? In 9th grade, do you think Katie Freeman would have made out with me if I told her I wrote about her in my journal the morning before? Fuck no…I’d probably still be a virgin.

In almost every aspect of guys’ lives, we have been programmed to think it is NEVER ok to do the things that help bring you more gratitude and appreciation.

“Hey Zander, I’m a guy. Am I screwed?” Unfortunately, yes. Yes, you are.

Unless you make the conscious decision not to give a fuck and stop listening to social stereotypes like they actually matter. Only then can you save yourself.

One of my favorite ideas in Tim Ferris’s The 4-Hour Workweek is the principle that everything popular is wrong. And when it comes to the popular consensus of what it means to be manly, Tim hits it on the nose.

Do you want to know what I did as soon as I woke up this morning? I pulled out my little pink journal with heart-shaped stickers on it and wrote down what I’m grateful for.  To my surprise, my testosterone levels didn’t plummet, and I didn’t have any sudden urges to watch High School Musical. It was a miracle! I was fine.  Not only that, I actually felt energized by the experience, and I plan on keeping this habit in my morning routine. See, I realized that you have a choice: 

Give in to the social programming that has run your life for years and see where that gets you


Make your own decision about what it means to be manly

And if you want to write in an adorable little journal every morning, do it.

If you know any macho dudes that are really journal-keeping-six-year-old girls deep down, please share this article with them and leave a comment below.

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6 comment

» Michael Kline said: { Dec 21, 2016 - 09:12:25 }

Zander, I love it! I admit, I’ve never been manly enough to know it was a natural gender resistance, but I’m glad to have an excuse! I have journaled on and off for a few years, you inspire me to get regular with it. I do have a morning gratitude group that shares a short text/post each morning to start the day right, but journalling is probably better. Love the article and writing style, by the way.

» Zander said: { Dec 21, 2016 - 09:12:51 }

Love it Mike! this has been something i have struggled with for years, fully knowing how powerful it can be. glad my journey is helping you too man!

» Jacqui said: { Dec 21, 2016 - 10:12:55 }

I love this article. I think we all can learn to appreciate a bit more in our lives!

» Gabe said: { Dec 21, 2016 - 11:12:07 }

Nailed it! It’s a hard thing to do…gonna give it a swing. Look forward to reading some more stuff soon. Besos.

» raana azad said: { Dec 29, 2016 - 07:12:53 }

We can all learn from this including this 60+ Mama!
Starting today I will say thank you at least once a day.
Appreciate this reminder, son.

» Evan said: { Dec 29, 2016 - 09:12:13 }

If being grateful is cool, consider me Miles Davis… great stuff man!

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