While I understand the value of keeping a gratitude journal, it always feels forced. If I have to think about 3 things that I’m grateful for, am I really grateful or am I just ticking off a box? When you write it down you acknowledge it, but does that actually mean anything? Can’t you just say please and thank you, like a civilized person with proper manners? I’m not saying that you need to question whether the tool you’re using “sparks joy” on a moment-to-moment basis. Maybe treat your possessions like they have value, because they do, and take care of them?
3 Things I’m Grateful For
While I did find some gratitude surveys online, including one academic study, those were about assessing degree of gratitude. I scored very high, and it told me that I’m a grateful person. It suggested ways to improve gratitude, like keeping a gratitude journal (seriously, again with this?), doing walking meditation (yup, do that already), and depriving yourself in order to learn to appreciate things you take for granted (I prefer moderation, to make things feel special).
That didn’t help me to craft a list of specific things that I’m grateful for, however. So I returned to the old standby methodology, a combination of reading through my (non-gratitude) journal for things that came up organically, and brainstorming. This is what I came up with.
Critical Thinking Skills
One of my strengths has always been the ability to spot a problem. I’m also pretty good at coming up with solutions. This has, at times, been a curse. There have been many times over the span of my life when I have, metaphorically, pointed at an oncoming train and warned people to get off the tracks. Most of the time they look at my like I’m crazy, right up to the moment they get squished. Or they believe that a train is coming, but can’t connect why standing on the tracks is a bad idea. In spite of the evidence I presented, they acted like I was a kook until the bitter end.
This is actually why I have some mental health issues. I had to watch this over and over again in the corporate world. Most of my positions involved being a troubleshooter, which made it all the more galling when I’d point out a problem and no one would listen. I’m not any sort of Sherlock Holmes-level master of deduction, either. A lot of the things I can “see” that others miss come down to paying attention and having some common sense. I have managed, with a couple of exceptions, to not get squished by oncoming trains.
For the past several years I’ve had no option but self-employment and entrepreneurship. I count that as a blessing, because it really forced me step out of my comfort zone and chase my dreams. When I see people in the United States sitting patiently and waiting for some politician or corporation to “bring back the jobs”, I’m thankful for my education, my resourcefulness, and my ability to relocate.
I understand that other people aren’t in a position to start their own business, or take up a side hustle. Family, health, and finances prevent people from taking risks, paying for job training, or moving to where the employment situation is better. It’s the people who won’t take the initiative because they have this deep sense of entitlement that bug me. They’re waiting for the job they feel they’re owed. They place their faith in some “savior” or another, who will manipulate their hopes and fears for a vote or a piece of their business, then discard them when they’re no longer useful.
There are so many things in my life that are the result of just being in the right place at the right time. If an opportunity had come earlier in my life, it wouldn’t have worked. Had I met certain people later, a whole bunch of things wouldn’t have happened. I’m not the sort of person to see this as some cosmic master plan or the workings of fate. It’s just luck. I have to be grateful for that.
What’s not luck is having the knowledge and resources to take advantage of those opportunities when they do fall into my lap. This is what makes me even more thankful for the above two. Without them I might not have recognized many of the doors that appeared before me, or known why I should step through them.
What I Can Do With This
As I said at the top of this post, I’d rather work on being conscientious on a moment-by-moment basis. Express gratitude to the people who help me. Say please and thank you and more, as the situation warrants it. Be appreciative of the tools that I have to work with, and the skills that I possess. Leverage this gifts for everything that they’re worth, and whenever possible pay it forward by using these things to help others.