Strange Gratitude During Strange Times
No one needs a newsflash to be aware that times are weird. To say everything is different is an understatement. One poll suggests that Americans think their own gratitude is increasing, while everyone else’s is going down. Also noted, is that married couples are more grateful than single people, and both of those groups are more grateful than people age 18–24.
The phrase ‘desperate times call for desperate measures’ takes on new meaning as we all attempt to navigate uncertainty. The words are most often attributed to Hippocrates and may have come from his work Amorphisms, in which he wrote:
“For extreme diseases, extreme methods of cure, as to restriction, are most suitable.” — Hippocrates
Whatever you may have thought about the phrase until now, I’d like to suggest it is a reason to hope during trying times. Times, they are a-changin’ as Bob Dylan sings. On that much, hopefully, we can agree.
It’s pertinent, probably now more than ever, to be grateful for even the weirdest things you’ve previously taken for granted.
Start with Things You Usually Don’t Notice
Consider the little things you always thought would be available, but have come to be in short supply. Like toilet paper, paper towels, and peanut butter. For all the times you’ve run to the supermarket to pick up something just because you wanted to or because you could. And for the times you didn’t have to wear a mask to do it.
How about cuddling with the kids or a pet, waking up and realizing that you slept well through the night, getting new underwear, or looking at meaningful photos for weird things we forget to notice?
The late Ruth Bader Ginsberg offers a reminder:
“So often in life, things that you regard as an impediment turn out to be great, good fortune.” — Ruth Bader Ginsberg
Be Glad for Creature Comforts
Not to go so far as to suggest that generations before us often walked up hills both ways on the way to and from school, but not to stray too far from the idea either. Can you be thankful for perfume or deodorant? How about all the times you woke up in the middle of the night and had to go to the bathroom? Can we be thankful for indoor plumbing? Researchers say creature comforts offer unhealthy adaptations. I look down at the dog at my feet and am grateful for opposable thumbs to open doors, jars, and to lift the toilet seat. Oprah says:
“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more.” — Oprah
Thank People You’ll Never Meet (and Some You Have)
Be glad for generations and people who paved the way for the life you have. As hard as life is for you, for us, if you live in a first-world country, you’ve got a relatively charmed life. Pause to think about those who struggled to make life easier. Be glad, if you can for those who have challenged you to think differently. Both the weird people you’ve never met, the ones who challenged the status quo, and the ones who challenge traditional thinking today, who will shape our tomorrow.
“That proves you are unusual,” returned the Scarecrow; “and I am convinced that the only people worthy of consideration in this world are the unusual ones. For the common folks are like the leaves of a tree, and live and die unnoticed.” — L. Frank Baum, The Land of Oz
It is easy to get sucked into negativity and its quick downward spiral. When you see abundance and not enough scarcity, you may fall into pessimism. It’s hard to turn off the voice in your head that says you are not worthy. Psychologists say having a growth mindset can make all the difference. Cheers for all the times you’ve not had enough money, motivation, time, energy, or something else altogether and smiled anyway. For every time you failed and found a way to overcome and smile on the other side for what you’ve learned along the way.
Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” — Winston Churchill
Look Ahead and Smile
For every time you’ve been down and felt like you couldn’t go on —
For all the times you felt life wasn’t worth living —
For each time you laughed when you could have cried —
Be glad you found hope and a reason to be grateful.
“The one thing you can’t take away from me is the way I choose to respond to what you do to me. The last of one’s freedoms is to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstance.” — Viktor E. Frankl, A Man’s Search for Meaning