I think this post has been brewing in my mind for a while. I am still not 100% clear about it, but I am clearer than I ever have been. Maybe tomorrow I’ll be clearer still.
Are you ever really bothered by something but can’t figure out why it bothers you? And then the not knowing becomes more bothersome than the initial bothering ever was? What’s worse is when you truly feel like the only one who feels that there is something wrong––like a marlin in a sea of dolphins. Quit poking me with your attitude sword-nose already! Can’t you see I’m trying to swim over here with my perfectly round, non-sharp nose?
Well hello, I am a marlin. And I have a nose to pick, I mean a sword to point (ok neither of those came out right but you get where I am swimming). Here’s to hoping I’m not the only fish in the sea.
It seems, lately, there has been a big trend toward gratitude––which, in my honest opinion, is great! We should appreciate what we have. When you start seeing the beautiful and wonderful, you often discover more of the beautiful and wonderful.
However––yup here it comes––often when I hear people talk about gratitude, it goes a little something like this. Be grateful for running water because there are people in the world that don’t have access to clean water. Be grateful for your health because there is someone suffering and dying in a hospital somewhere right now.
For some people, this works. It puts things in perspective. Well, I am not some people. I am way too empathetic for this tactic to shine any positive light on the situation.
What I hear is – Don’t you feel better about your health and water now that I have pointed out the suffering of the world? No sir, I do not feel better. What a terrible and depressing world we live in. I am going to hide in my dark corner of everything-sucks-and-then-you-die.
Besides putting a spotlight on all the misery in the world, this idea of gratitude plays into something I hate––pity. I will say, as a person with a disability, I probably have a much stronger rage reaction to pity than the average bear. (Wait, she has a disability?! You mean she has been writing this whole time while sitting in a wheelchair? Can she even do that?––Yeah, and, surprise, I have a disability) If you are wondering why, as a non-disabled person, I feel this way, just Google pity and disability. Go on. I’ll wait.
See? There is a reason the statement “I don’t hate you, I just pity you” is so powerful. Pity is seeing someone as less than, as not as lucky as you, as not as human as you. People often pity so they can make themselves feel better.
Worse than that, have you ever been pitied? Did it make you feel good about yourself? Did it make you say “Yea I can do anything, man!” No, not really. When I have found myself in these situations and already not at my best, self-pity usually follows. Let me tell you, anxiety and depression love self-pity. Self-pity is like the heroin needle for depression.
Also, pitying someone is ultimately comparing ourselves to others and finding them lacking and us the fortunate ones. But the self-comparison needle can quickly swing the other way. In the age of social media, the grass is not only greener, it’s gone viral. We constantly compare our insides to someone else’s outsides. Picture a woman tanning on a tropical beach somewhere (we all know THAT woman) who we envy while sitting in our cold, sad, windowless cubicle. For all we know, she could have woken up with a raging yeast infection only to later indulge in the wrong oyster and spend the night puking in the bathroom. Talk about an instagramable moment.
I’m not saying I am there yet, but wouldn’t it be really nice if we could be grateful for something we have and appreciate something someone else has without feeling jealous that we don’t have it. So you think, I have nice boobs. Her butt is nice, though. My butt sucks. Boo, self-hatred on own butt. What if we could be like––I have nice boobs. She has a nice butt. Yay boobs! Yay butt! Go me! Go her! Self-love and appreciation abound.
Of course, I am not talking about never being pissed off at your life. Like I have said before, emotions are meant to be felt. But it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. You can have the crappiest of all Mondays but still admit that cup of coffee tasted damn good this morning. And you can be grateful for that cup of coffee while still stressing about tomorrow, aka Monday doppelganger. They can exist in the same place. And being grateful can help, but not if it is linked with pity.
So, to me, gratitude is one because away from bliss. I’m grateful for this meal because there are thousands of starving people in the world. What if we stop before the because? I’m grateful for this meal. Cheese is delicious! I’m grateful for cheese (and ice cream of course). I’m grateful for this shirt. It’s comfortable and I look damn good in it. I’m grateful for flowers. I’m grateful for the smell of gardenias. I am grateful for the sound of crunching leaves. I’m grateful that I have a freaking camera attached to my texting device (because who really makes actual phone calls these days anyway).
Ok, it is your turn. No comparisons. You live in a bubble and there is only you. What are you grateful for?