I so wish I could be Buddha-like on this happiness-project resolution. I wish I could be one of those faceless shadowy figures who stand on a mountain top with an awesome sunset before them and their hands in the air — the kind of shadowy people who are pictured in inspirational calendars. That was my goal, but no such luck. Not even close.
This whole gratitude thing proved to be one of the most difficult resolutions of My Happiness Project. I guess most people find it easy to be grateful. But before you go thinking that I’m some kind of an ass, let me clear things up. I am extremely grateful when good things happen to me. I’m busting out cartwheels and thank yous nonstop. They just don’t happen very often.
I was doing pretty well with that whole gratefulness meditation thing that Gretchen Rubin suggests in her book, however I added chocolate and a glass of my favorite alcoholic beverage. And that seemed to help during ordinary days, but when you have crappy days I think that’s when the whole gratefulness factor needs to step it up a notch. This is where I’ve been failing, because there is not enough chocolate or Framboise.
I usually just get really bummed out because I can’t think of any new reasons for which to be grateful, so I end up watching a comedy to help improve my depressing attitude before going to bed. Then I’m thankful for comedy. Jason Bateman comedies are common during dark days, although I have a wide range of go-to films for crappy days like that.
But the key is thinking of something new or different each week, or each day. When this crappiness occurs, I always end up saying well at least I have my kids and my health. But part of this whole gratefulness resolution is to find more aspects of your life for which to be grateful.
So I got stuck. Then I realized why …
“One of the many ways to define unhappiness is the degree of difference between where you are and where you want to be — or the difference between what is and what you expect.” — Dale Carnegie
Yes. That’s me. There is a big degree of difference between what I am and what I imagined I’d be at 37. Ginormous. But I’m sure I’m not alone on this one, probably a handful of other people feel the same. So then Gretchen Rubin makes a suggestion. Catastrophe Memoirs. In other words read about someone else’s really crappy, horrible life and be thankful that it wasn’t you. Now I’m all for reading, but I feel bad about gaining appreciation and gratefulness at the expense of others. I don’t want to be that person who reads about a chick with cancer and thinks … well thank God that’s not me. That’s sort of a crappy way to get to a happier place.
But I realized that Rubin wasn’t suggesting that I have the ha-ha this-happened-to-you-and-not-me mentality. It was more of an “admonition to live fully and thankfully in the present,” and not wait until “catastrophe” strikes in order to be grateful, or in order to do the things that make your life a life. Appreciate ordinary days and cherish your health. This was what Rubin was getting at with all the catastrophe memoirs.
However, I have yet to read one. I imagine when I’m all the way at the bottom I might crack one open without feeling guilty. But for now, hearing about other people’s crappy life will do just fine. Plus I just stocked up on Framboise and chocolate.
- My Happiness Project Update 12: Finding Gratefulness in Ordinary Days … And Not the Artificial Kind. (thewishfactor.wordpress.com)
- My Happiness Project Update 11: Parenthood is All About Angles, Even If Some of Them Require 243 Pieces. (thewishfactor.wordpress.com)
- Happiness Project Update 9: Parenthood … Awful, Awful, Awful, Terrific! (thewishfactor.wordpress.com)
- Happiness Project Update 7: Enjoying The Now, Enjoying The Later Much Better, and Ripley (thewishfactor.wordpress.com)
- Happiness Project Update 8: I Accept That This is Not an 80s Movie (thewishfactor.wordpress.com)