Things could always be worse. You could slip into a burning volcano, inadvertently crush a sleeping baby on the subway, get caught in the middle of a raccoon death match while you’re buying kettle corn for your six year old. You could trip over a homeless man and knock your shiny white teeth out. Permanently.
On the brighter side, you could win a lifetime supply of xanax, or audition for a random casting call and find yourself in next year’s Rom-Com, opposite Ryan Gosling. Soon, you and Mr. G are exploring your deep love for poetry and launching your new fragrance line: Serendipity.
Thing is, our sense of gratitude is difficult to sustain when it’s rooted in everyone else’s condition. It’s hard to keep track whether I should be grateful that I have two legs and a working va-jayjay, or throw my self-pity out the car window with all my material possessions and go save the world.
For me, I decided to let go of the stuff I “should” be thankful for. I stopped comparing myself to everyone else, stopped pretending that my guilt over all the tragedies in the world was actually gratitude, along with the “At least I’m not dealing with ____” justifications.
If your crazy toddler is painting the new furniture with the Justin Beiber nail polish that your thirteen year old left on the floor, don’t go all crazy and start chanting ‘I’m grateful for my son, I’m grateful for my son,” to make it happen. Just let that one go for now. These are the moments when the billions of poverty-stricken children simply don’t come to mind; or the women working for two dollars a day; or the teenager facing adulthood with a baby in her belly. And that’s okay. Really.
Today, dig a little deeper. Thanksgiving: Quiet the part of your brain that is busy grunting, and write down the first fifty things come to mind, without censoring the shoulds and should’nts. Once you’re done, go cross a whole bunch of stuff off. It’s okay if you’re not really thankful today for your kids, or your husband, or your job. But I think you’ll be left with a few things still beaming from your paper.
Today, be thankful for those few things. Maybe it’s toilet paper. Maybe it’s the sunlight. Maybe it’s running water. Or maybe someone you love is exiting rehab and you have hope. Or your sister’s cancer is in recession. We all have more than a few things.
The moment you decide to be thankful, it starts to take root and grow something good. Those little seeds start busting their little underground butts till they can pop up toward the sunlight and show the world. That garden will be bursting in no time.
Let’s go be thankful for our own stuff, and start beginning to enjoy the life we’re living.