Search & Replace Episode S01E24: Shibani Faehnle

A point had come in Shibani Faehnle’s career where she felt underappreciated and wasn’t getting the roles she wanted. Consequently, she realized she had been constantly complaining to everyone around her. She says she was unhappy with who she had become and decided to change. Through pure luck, she discovered a gratitude journaling app that drastically impacted her life. Each day, she spends a few minutes reflecting on what she is thankful for, and usually, the small things bring her happiness. As a result, she no longer complains to her friends, and a job promotion came her way, too. Listen to Shibani’s transformation from frustrated with life to living with gratitude on Search and Replace.

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[00:00:00] Announcer: Support for the following podcast is provided by the user experience specialist at Johns and Taylor. More information follows this episode. 
[00:00:11] Joe Taylor, Jr: What if reaching a new goal means making time to think about the things you are already grateful for? I'm Joe Taylor, Jr. This is Search and Replace.
Shibani Faehnle started writing a blog about her life in Cleveland, Ohio all the way back in 2010. A few years after that her website evolved into a jewelry and fashion boutique. She was balancing this creative work with a full-time job in finance, which she enjoyed until she didn't.
[00:00:43] Shibani Faehnle: I got really frustrated with where I was in my career. I felt like I was largely under appreciated. I felt like I wasn't doing anything new and exciting. I'd applied for a few roles and gotten turned down. I was in a funk, career-wise, and I would meet up with friends and we would have the same conversation all the time, which was basically me saying I'm so frustrated. Here's all the things I've done. Nothing is working. And then talking about like how I was unhappy and why wasn't this just fixing itself again.
[00:01:26] Joe Taylor, Jr: Shabani realized that her unhappiness at work was spilling into other parts of her life, too. And wondered if she wasn't the only one who felt this way.
[00:01:36] Shibani Faehnle: I was doing things. It just felt like I was taking action, now it needed to fix itself. And I was just, like, I knew I was being a terrible friend. I knew I was not the best version of myself. But I was just like stuck in this spiral of just complaining about something that wasn't changing, despite my best efforts to make it change.
And so I just got mired in, like, the things that I wanted but I didn't have. And that was that realization that I had become a version of myself that I wasn't happy with really led me to research around what do happy successful people do, and what are their habits?
[00:02:22] Joe Taylor, Jr: There is an entire industry in America devoted to self-help and self-care. But it's not always easy to discover the techniques that are going to help you out of your own slump. Through luck or fate, or just a really effective algorithm, that's where a well-placed social media ad enters the picture.
[00:02:41] Shibani Faehnle: I got an ad for the Five Minute Journal app. And that's really where I started just recording these prompts. So basically, you know, the whole concept is you wake up, you start a habit and it prompts you for three thing you're grateful for, one thing you want to accomplish in the day and, like, what you're going to do to make your better.
[00:03:02] Joe Taylor, Jr: Outfitted with a new five minute journaling practice Shibani, already someone who was making part of her living from writing every week, looked for inspiration on where to focus her thoughts. And that's where the concept of gratitude showed up.
[00:03:15] Shibani Faehnle: It came down to two things that stood out amongst a wide cross section of people who, you know, I would consider successful in their career. And they all talked about meditation and gratitude. And so that's really got me examining what both of these practices were and taking a deeper dive into what that might look like.
Over the course of, maybe, four to six weeks I started to see that I wasn't whiny the way that I was before and I wasn't, like, complaining. And I could have a normal conversation with somebody that didn't have to do with me, me, me, and what's happening in my life and what my issues were.
[00:04:00] Joe Taylor, Jr: Shibani says she quickly realized that the thing she was most grateful for often shared something in common.
[00:04:07] Shibani Faehnle: The things that I was appreciative of really were little. And it helped me realize, like, every day happiness and everyday joy is not really the big things, it's actually in the very, very little things. So it's things like a new flower on my house plant or being outside and seeing a beautiful sunrise or just making a recipe from scratch, or things like that.
Joy is not defined as the big moments, because the big moments happen and they're awesome. These weren't existential revelations or something like that. It was like, my dogs were really well-behaved on the walk. It's a very sunny day. I bought myself flowers, or something like that.
It was just, like, the little thing that helped me realize with all the things that I want and didn't have- and again, it was only really one thing that I wanted and didn't have- I have so much else to be grateful for that I was taking for granted that other people may not have.
[00:05:15] Joe Taylor, Jr: Among folks who train people for a living, there's a philosophy called see one, do one, teach one. It means that to achieve mastery of a new practice, you've got to commit to helping other people master the same set of skills. And that's exactly what Shibani did next.
[00:05:31] Shibani Faehnle: I ended up, like, creating some templates on Instagram and sharing these publicly. And today, so now we're say a whole year past when I first started doing this, I don't share them on Instagram every day. And frankly, I don't even do it as a regular practice every day anymore. But when I find myself in not the best mental place or not feeling positive, I go back to that practice.
So for example, when we went into lockdown as part of the pandemic, I went right back into it because I was freaking out about having my entire way of life changed. I went back to doing the gratitude journal, and I can say that it really helped out. And in me sharing my gratitude publicly, it helped other people share theirs as well and realize it's the small moments that really matter when it comes down to it.
[00:06:30] Joe Taylor, Jr: That's Cleveland writer, Shibani Faehnle. And since we recorded our interview, I'm proud to report that Shibani got that big, new role she was looking for.
We've got links to her writing, to her boutique and to plenty of resources to help you start your own gratitude journal over on our website at
Search and Replace was produced by Nicole Hubbard with support from Christine Benton, Connie Evans, Amelia Lohmann, April Smith, and executive producer Lori Taylor. Our theme music was composed by Alex Rufire. I'm Joe Taylor, Jr.
[00:07:04] Announcer: This has been a Podcast Taxi radio production. Support for Search and Replace is provided by Johns and Taylor, user experience specialists serving media and technology companies that want their websites to work. Learn more about how top performing businesses eliminate barriers between customers and their goals at

Joe Taylor Jr. has produced stories about media, technology, entertainment, and personal finance for over 25 years. His work has been featured on NPR, CNBC, Financial Times Television, and ABC News. After launching one of public radio's first successful digital platforms, Joe helped dozens of client companies launch or migrate their online content libraries. Today, Joe serves as a user experience consultant for a variety of Fortune 500 and Inc. 5000 businesses. Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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