“Gratitude”

Is not a word that I always like–it can often become one of those rather annoying buzzwords that suddenly everyone is excited about and then abandons. It can also be use to overemphasize the good and overlook the bad (which isn’t always a “good” thing to do, I think). It can be a tool for fast-tracking spiritual enlightenment, which makes me gag (it should be a long and sometimes painful process, in my incredibly optimistic opinion).

But anyway. This is a time of year when thinking about gratitude, however you feel about the word, is perhaps a very good idea. Some people, including myself, have a tendency to, at times, spend too much time and attention on “what’s wrong” and not what’s right, or at least good or wonderful or happily unexpected. I also have a fabulous tendency to compare myself and my life with others, and feel I always fall short in such comparisons. I know I can sometimes be a total drag. I get caught up in how pissed off or upset or worried I am about a variety of things, and forget to spend time thinking about how goddamn lucky I am for all of the other stuff in my life. It is not so much the upcoming holiday that got me thinking about this, rather two articles I read online recently, one about a man with terminal lung cancer, and another about a young girl with MS. I am healthy, alive, awake, employed, and have people who love me in my life, but there are moments when my attitude communicates otherwise. So, tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after, and each day after that, I’m going to do a better job of being grateful for the following things:

-My legs. They work, they carry me from place to place, and well, and help me do yoga, dance, bike, and take walks.

-My lungs. My heart. My bones and muscles.

-My eyes, hands, and mind. Those three things allow me to think, feel, communicate, create, and express in the ways that make me the happiest.

-Simply acknowledging that I was born into a good family that supported me and helped me grow into a good person with good values and good opportunities.

-My family itself. We’re not perfect, but we love each other and do our best to keep things peaceful and happy. I love going home and spending time with them.

-My education, and my-ever continuing education. Even though I can’t afford it.

-Living in Rochester. It may not be as beautiful and majestic as my once beloved Pacific Northwest, but it’s near my family (see above bullet), and has a beautiful spring, summer, and fall. It has some good little cafes, restaurants, and places to dance. It’s close to the Great Lakes and Finger Lakes, and has enough woods to keep the hiker in me happy.

-My friends, near and far.

-Close connections. You know, those people you meet and feel an instant connection with, as if you’ve always known them, as if you always will (and I think you do, based on experience, even if time and distance come between you for a while.)

-Speaking of connections; that my dearest Emiline will be here for a few days in the new year!

-The reality that I got to meet a lovely man with whom I share a close connection.

-The luxury of being able to read a recipe for fancy-pants french toast on some blog and then go out and buy the ingredients to make it, and then make it. Actually, just the luxury of having health cookbooks full of delicious recipes that I can afford to read about and make is more than enough.

-My cozy bed, my odd cat, my radiators and hot water tank.

-In summary, all the food, beauty, love, interests, and comfort I have easy access to. None of these things are guaranteed to anyone forever, and I need to more grateful that at present, I have them all. I really could not ask for any more… (though–I certainly can work for more!! And I am grateful that I have the ability to works towards something better in the areas of my life that continue to be less than satisfying, to put it nicely…)

That’s all for now. Let us all remember (or at least those of us that need to, like me) that we should, everyday, be grateful for what we DO have, and not upset about what we do not, nor should we compare what we have to what someone else has, worried we have less, or are inferior somehow. That, I think, is the quickest route to unhappiness, and also perhaps neuroticism!

OK! Back to cuddling with my odd cat and doing a bit of doodling in my sketchbook. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone 🙂

comparison-is-the-thief-of-joy

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