Monday Mind Hack: Some Grudging Gratitude
I was slow finishing this post, so now my co-blogger has not only beat me to the punch but also come off as far more high-minded than I. Well, that’s only fair, as she is far more high-minded than I am.
Gratitude can be a great mood-altering substance: change your perspective and feel thankful for what you do have instead of dwelling on what you don’t. When you develop the habit, it’s easy to feel suddenly grateful for everyday things like a game of cards with your kids, a pizza, or a perfect peach. (OK, perfect peach is not an everyday thing, but you see what I mean.) You can go all “Double Rainbow, All the Way!” without the acid and the resultant letdown.
I don’t really have trouble feeling grateful. I often go to sleep at night feeling grateful for my bed, knowing that many people don’t cuddle under fluffy blankets on flannel sheets and a soft but supportive mattress. The good fortune involved in such a happy circumstance does not escape me, even after something like 15,000 nights of doing the same over the course of my life (I subtracted a few hundred nights for summers at Girl Scout Camp and the last year of my futon.)
I just don’t like being told to be grateful. Consider: it always happens when you are in conflict, or when someone is telling you to STFU.
“Mom, my shoes are too small and I’m starting to lose circulation from my mid-calf on down.” “Just be grateful you have shoes!”
“Cleaning coffeeshop toilets feels like such a waste of my Master’s degree.” “Just be grateful you have a job.”
If you’re on Facebook, you know that November is the month when your friends begin listing the things they are grateful for in their status updates, kind of like February is the month when NPR starts featuring blues musicians. (Kidding! I love NPR—some of my best one-sided friendships are with NPR hosts.)
I would by no means suspend any pleasure of theirs, and I enjoy the little peek into the thoughts and feelings of my friends. (I admit, I am one who does not mind reading what people had for breakfast as their status updates; I am weirdly
voyeuristic curious that way.)
Reading them every day for two weeks now has me edgy, in that pouty “don’t tell me what to do” way triggered by the “just be grateful you aren’t a shoeless hobo” superego in my head. But I know it’s good for me, so here goes, and now I’ll be all caught up.
1. Online friends: I talked to one of my first online friends to go “IRL” with me on the phone yesterday. She reminded me how accessible joy can be when you’re receptive and curious, which made it a lot easier to make the rest of this list.
2. My gas stove, which merrily spits fire if I get too wild in the kitchen, making me feel temporarily like a real restaurant chef.
3. Chocolate cookies from Rustica, which are truly better than you can imagine. You may think you have had a cookie just like this, but if you haven’t been to Rustica, you have not.
4. Peaches: obvious. Best. Food. Ever.
5. The musicians in my family, because letting my music education go was one of the hardest things I ever did, and now it’s all right back in my house again.
6. My southern roots, which I embrace by making grits dressing and banana cream pie and creamed greens and sweet tea and biscuits and gravy. And peaches, obviously.
7. Grad school, where I met my people. I don’t see many of my people anymore, but grad school was the first place where it seemed I might actually have a people. Had a best friend who just Got Me. And got a husband too.
8. Coffee. My other best friend.
9. Learning to knit, which makes me feel competent in a way that a PhD and 500+ published encyclopedia entries do not. Turning a heel on a sock makes me feel like a magician. Also, knitting means always having an excuse to fall out of a conversation.
10. Cocktails: my favorite part of having cocktails is when someone else makes it and hands it to me. We like to drink something we call Tuccis, after Stanley Tucci, and they bear a strong resemblance to the Parisian Cocktail.
11. MPR, my constant kitchen and car companion.
12. Computers, without which I could not have my job, could not stay home in my little hidey hole office, could not have those Facebook friends.
13. My light box, which keeps me marginally sane.
14. My bed, where in the encroaching cold of November I burrow down under several blankets and still try to steal body heat from my beloved, who is—thankfully—only mildly grumpy about that.