Waiting in line at a food truck, I thought about what I was grateful for at work.
It was a prompt from The Good List, a new mindfulness app from the chief tech officer at the fitness app Aaptiv. The thought exercise was part of The Good List's "week of gratitude" program, or "path" as the app calls it. I was getting one question each day for, well, seven days whenever I opened the app. I had already responded to two weeks' worth of gratitude and introspective exercises as I used the app the month before its public release.
I'm a daily Aaptiv user for physical exercise, so I wanted to see if I could build The Good List into a daily habit for mental exercise.
What is The Good List?
There may be a long list of mindfulness apps, but The Good List is trying to stand out as a simplified version of what's already out there. Founder Amit Wadhawan described the app as a way "to help people live a happier and more fulfilling life through research-based practices that take just a few minutes a day."
It launched only a few weeks ago, so it's still adding more features and sessions. But for now it's primarily for gratitude and mindfulness practices.
The Good List is also something of a guided journal with most sessions asking you to write a few sentences in the app. It also has breathing and meditation practices, along with audio guides and links to mindfulness research.
How do you use it?
The Good List is helpfully simple, especially at the beginning. Head to the Discover page where you'll select different paths, or collections of sessions, on the app. The app nudges you to start with some basic and intro courses, which list out the "practice" for each day.
I started on the suggested beginner journey with "basics of mindfulness" before moving onto a "week of gratitude" after finishing those practices. You can double- or triple-up on paths, but to keep it simple I just did one path at a time.
Each morning (or whenever you want to be notified) the app would send me a notification encouraging me to open the app. Once in the app it would remember where I had left off and open to the next practice. A guided reading usually explaining the research and science behind being thankful or other topics would take a few minutes, before the app asked me to write a few responses. One practice asked, "Which accomplishment are you most thankful for?" That was followed with "How did you make this accomplishment possible?" You type into the app just like you'd write out a text message or email.
That was it, I was done for the day.
True to its marketing, it was only a few minutes out of my day. After completing the practice I would get a celebratory screen. I can go back and look at my responses, which I put under password protection available through the app. Like a real journal you don't want anyone to be able to read your inner-most thoughts.
For a few weeks it was a daily habit like flossing or the Duolingo language learning app, but then I put it off for a day, then another.
How much does it cost?
It's available now through the App Store for iOS devices. It's not yet ready for Android users. On iPhone you can get an unlimited subscription to the app for $1.99 each month or $19.99 for the year. It's free to download.
Is it worth it?
I made it to "a week of happiness" path after successfully completing my daily prompts for two other paths. But after a few weeks of momentum and incorporating more thankfulness and mindfulness for everything from my family to work to my sense of smell, I hit a rut. The notifications kept coming in, but I didn't click them open. The inspirational quotes started piling up (like "Turn your wounds into wisdom" from Oprah Winfrey) whenever I'd open my notification center.
There are only so many apps you can use (and pay for) everyday. Personally, I was busy with the "No-Stress November" challenge on the Aaptiv app ($14.99/month), a month-long meditation competition with other Aaptiv users. So The Good List fell by the wayside.
Others may already be settled into routines with The Good List's competitor apps like Headspace or Calm. Some might be taking mindfulness classes through the Oura ring or other familiar tools like the Netflix mindfulness streaming series.
It's a crowded field, but for someone open to something new at a low cost, The Good List is a focused, simple, and effective way to settle the mind, look inward, and be grateful.