Every once in a while I remind myself that having gratitude might really be the biggest key to having happiness. And Jeesh, who doesn’t want a big piece of the happiness pie (I’ll take mine with whipped cream, please). Taking the time to be grateful is not about rainbows and rose colored glasses. It’s not like working the gratitude game makes you naive, like you’re ignoring stuff you should be paying attention to, because you’re off on Fantasy Island (“Da plane, Da plane”) thinking about how great life is. It’s just about making a shift in your head, as to how you choose to look at things. It’s never about ignoring the bad shit that goes down, it’s about highlighting the good shit. It’s getting high on the light, instead of the dark. You know?
When I used to hear about having gratitude, which was mostly around Thanksgiving, when you should not really ask me to think about anything except the upcoming turkey and stuffing and mashed potatoes, (really do not tax my brain with any other anything, when there is turkey and stuffing and mashed potatoes on the table), I used to think it was kind of cheesy and lame. I never felt like anybody could explain it to me in a way that didn’t make me feel like I was reading a Hallmark card from the Hallmark card section explicitly for people over 75, who buy the corniest cards with the most cliche sayings EVER. That’s not at all what being a grateful person is, though (with all due respect and gratitude to every aunt and cousin who has ever sent me one of those cards).
It’s much more about just looking for the good things in a way that makes your heart grow, instead of break. It asks you to take a yellow marker to everything that happens in your day from the tiniest moment that feels nice, that could have gone one way, but goes another way (your way). It’s about asking you to notice what’s really happening, instead of being lost in a negative haze of what you EXPECT to happen.
If you go through your life just trying to get through it, that’s what you’ll wind up doing. But if you go through your days, watching out for the slivers of good fortune (they got your name right at Starbucks, and someone else didn’t walk out with your Latte, you brought your umbrella, your husband made dinner, ok, he bought take-out, but whatever) you will begin to live a happier life.
I urge you to try and open up your peepers to the moments you can be grateful for. It won’t suddenly make you Polly Anna, or Glinda the Good Witch, but what it will do, is make you more aware of the goddamned gorgeous things that are all around you, if you just take the time to look out for them.