I got tagged on Facebook to do a gratitude exercise. I was to list three things I’m grateful for each day for five days, tagging three people to pick up the challenge each day. Well, I don’t usually spend time on Facebook playing games or picking up challenges – I’m too busy finding out what your dinner looks like. And Pollyanna became a negative stereotype through her Glad Game.
But I’ve read a lot of research on the subject, and the connection between gratitude and happiness is pretty strong. So I thought, “Hey, I can be grateful.” A little gratitude won’t kill me, and I’m all about happiness (it’s okay to laugh). But don’t worry, I didn’t totally break character. No way would I tag someone else.
So, without further ado, here are the things I was grateful for last week. I’m pretty sure the list is still up to date.
1. I’m grateful for literature. It’s how I understand the world and I can’t imagine my life without it.
2. I’m grateful for music. It’s how I understand myself and I can’t imagine my life without it.
3. I’m grateful for all the creative people who make art that elevates our spirits and helps the rest of us make sense of the world. Without their work living would just be surviving.
1. I am grateful for all the different kinds of people alive in this world. Their cultures remind me to question my assumptions about how to live.
2. I am grateful for marriage equality and the hopeful feeling that laws can be used to protect and nurture humans instead of enshrining prejudice.
3. I am grateful for every person who has ever caught me short in an argument and made me say, “I never thought of that,” even if I said it through gritted teeth.
1. I am grateful to live in a place with clean water and air and modern sanitation.
2. I am grateful to have lived while the earth was still rich in biodiversity and resources were still readily available.
3. I am grateful that I have the opportunity to explore the world and experience these riches while they still exist.
*I know that all of these are privileges denied to most of the people alive today, and all of them in a few generations. While it is my duty to work to expand my privilege to others, I can not help but be happy that I myself do not have to be strong enough to live without them.
1.I am grateful to have found a community of supportive and like-minded people among whom to live my life.
2. Since every child has special needs, I am grateful that mine have needs that I am emotionally and financially competent to deal with.
3. I am grateful to have a husband and parents who offer the emotional and financial support I need to pursue my dreams.
Fifth and Final Facebook gratitudes (the Fun ones, since it’s Friday)
1. I am grateful for music festivals and late nights of live music.
2. I am grateful that I get to enjoy alcohol as a source of pleasure in my life and not suffer its frequently attendant problems.
3. I am grateful for good grub.
This exercise reminded me of a scene in Matt Ruff’s Fool on the Hill, which inspired a different gratitude exercise I’ve occasionally followed over the years. In the book, canine characters visit the local wisedog, interrupting his meditation/prayer:
Oh sun Oh sky Oh clouds Oh wind Oh grass Oh trees Oh hill Oh milkbone Oh bitch-in-heat Oh life is grand Oh sun Oh sky Oh clouds …
Maybe your mantra would be different from the philosophical Irish Setter’s (I only needed to modify a couple of items) but contemplation of the things that joy to your life can only be helpful. So, um, you know … tag.