Today we are going to do something radical. We are going to cultivate gratitude! Yes that’s right, I have taken it upon myself to sign us all up for a crash course in dealing with winter blues in a healthy way. Presently the way I deal with winter blues involves finding things, anything at all really, to up and feel sorry for myself about. It’s a game and it’s called, ‘How many things are crap today?’ I can come up with loads of things on the spot. I am a champion of this game! How about, I’m 32 and I still have to live with roommates!! Yes, that sux! How about, all the places to live in Sydney are small, dingy and cost a fortune! Yes, that sux too! How about, my car is total bullshit and the front of it is held on by a bungy cord! Hahaha – you loser! How about, I’ve been studying for four straight years and I still have about a million more to go and it’s all my fault for waiting so long to start! Yesssiree Bob, that’s a humdinger! And then on and on until we filter in all the problems with the environment, women’s rights, poverty, inequality, discrimination and TONY ABBOTT and, well, shit – it’s hard to get out of bed.
SO. They say that one of the ways to ward off depression is to cultivate gratitude. To be mindful – consciously, purposefully, about the things in our lives that we have to be thankful for. All the little things that we take for granted. They say that this presence of mind about positive things, will help to form a seal of protection around the part of you that wants to fill it up with negative shit.
Well, that’s the way I see it anyway.
This makes sense to me because I’ve been thinking about all this ‘taking it for granted’ biz and I think that the problem stems from human’s having too good of an ability to adapt.
See, human beings are a hugely successful species based largely on their uncanny ability to adapt to their circumstances. When the shit hits the fan we adjust our way of life to the new set of circumstances and get on with things accordingly. Without this quality we would not have survived the first ice age, or, say, highschool. We adapt or die. We’re very good at it.
The problem is, that our ability to adapt does not discern good circumstances from bad ones. This means that we adapt to the good things that happen to us too. We adjust quickly, taking on board the new set of circumstances as though they were always that way. It becomes routine. And so what happens is….
We end up taking it all for granted.
It’s our natural way to be. So in order to stay happy we (read: me) really need to consciously make an effort to remember that the little good things are not a given, they are not for free and they are not obliged to stick around forever, especially if they’re being ignored.
So let’s see if it works. Here is my list of 10 things that are not crap:
- I am thankful that I get to live in a house that is warm and dry and safe. I am grateful to live with two very nice people who are supportive and kind and caring. They also keep all the common areas clean and tidy and take the garbage out without being asked. I am thankful that they give me emergency cigarettes if I have a shitty day.
- I am grateful to have a car that works. I am also grateful that it is really small which means I can park it anywhere including places that aren’t really parking spots and are more like ‘no stopping zones’ and ‘do not park here’ places. Sometimes I just stop the car wherever I am and get out and because it’s small, it’s pretty much good enough.
- I am extremely grateful that I have enough money to be able to buy a nice coffee everyday. I can also sit down and luxuriously sip coffee and have eggs with feta and chorizo and I do this all the time like it ain’t no thing. Really, this is a total freakin luxury.
- I am grateful to live in a country where I can go to school without having to pay for it up front. This means I am free to study to my heart’s content and I don’t have to pay it back unless I make enough money to be able to do so.
- I am grateful to live in a city where it is only cold for 8 weeks of the year.
- I am thankful that I have a job. I can pay my bills without being terrified to open them. And not only do I have a job but I was actually able to change careers from a soul sucking corporate gig to something that I believe in. This is something that I never thought possible and yet now I take it for granted.
- I am thankful that I have friends and family who are all healthy and happy and caring.
- I am grateful that I have a bedspread that I really like.
- I am grateful to have gas heating which is super cosy.
- I am grateful for all the things I have been allowed in this life so far. The people I have met, the experiences I have had, the freedom to explore and pursue the avenues I wished to take. This is an extraordinarily lucky life I have been born into.
I am going to try to be grateful for at least one thing per day. Aside from it helping me to be happy, I also have a sneaking suspicion it will help to prevent burnout on the job as well. I figure if I can live life with more gratitude it will help dispel the anger and hopelessness I feel when faced with all that is wrong with the world. Ie: Being grateful for what I do have, will allow me the strength and energy to be able to help those that don’t.
And if that’s not reason enough to give it a go, I don’t know what is.
I am thankful for all of you!!