Being Grateful

Right to Left: Christopher L. Jorgensen, Benny, and Dennis J Naughton

I've been trying to challenge myself to think about more positive things more often, to train my brain to not dwell on the negative and intrusive. This is a sort of interesting exercise. To try to come up with one single thing you are grateful for every single day. Or, if possible, three times a day. These are sort of like micro meditations, wherein I spend at least 15 seconds thinking about things that are going well. Not even a full minute out of my day (if you don’t count the time I spend struggling to come up with something to think about).

I thought about sharing this list, but I thought I'd end up doing this for only a day or two. I also thought I might run out of things to be grateful for. Besides, I haven't been recording them, and I am certain there are duplicates, and I have only been doing this a week or so, and I don’t want anyone pointing out that the things that make me happy are superficial and lame. So for now they are for me alone. Often, at bedtime, I realize I haven't done today's ”cool things in my life,” for the day, so I have to think of three. This really isn’t a bad way to fall asleep. It beats thinking of the four thousand eight hundred and seventy-eleventeen things I have to do when I wake up!

Once I have something, I just try to focus on that, to enjoy it, to think about why it’s cool, and why it makes me happy. These doesn’t have to be anything huge. “I made homemade cranberry sauce and it was super yum!” is a large enough accomplishment to spend a few seconds on. “I wrote a poem,” or “I got a really cool cabinet card,” or “I’m alive.” Hell, even a warm bed on a cold day is enough to spend 15 lousy seconds on.

This will literally be 34 minutes out of a month and a half. If I did this for the rest of my life I’d be looking at a couple of days of happy thoughts! Not exactly onerous.

But what I have been thinking about lately is turning these into an actual list. “The smell of banana bread and coffee.” Then when I am having a bad day, when I am struggling to find even one thing to be excited about, I can review the list. “I have finally designed a good backup workflow for my personal devices.” And if I can’t think of anything, well, then maybe it’s time to take time to make something to be grateful for. “My couch is comfy and I have good company.” “I have kickass hobbies and puppets in my life.” “The Punisher on Netflix Didn’t suck!” “I make great breakfasts.” “I slept well three nights in a row.” “Movie popcorn.” “It’s Friday!”

Anyway, it’s just something I’m trying, something I am enjoying, and something I plan to do for another five weeks. You should give it a go! You’ve got nothing to lose! I bet you spend more time thinking about regret.

• Christopher

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“Teach me to be happy, teach me control.” —Tones on Tale