Jun 19, 2008


I've read for years now about the subject of gratitude and I usually, I'll admit, roll my eyes. Because, the implication I've gleaned from these essays and books is always the same, and that is: by asking me to cultivate gratitude, the implication is that I am not currently grateful for anything. And that's just not true.

One issue I find with a a lot of these sort of positivity/gratitude writings is that few seem terribly realistic. You see, I believe that even perhaps less-than-pleasant subjects aren't inherently negative, as they are part of life. And, some positivity/gratitude writings gloss over anything that isn't super-turbo-changed-indisputably-thrilling and that's lame. Details and less-than-thrilling-moments are here whether we want them to be or not. We can be overall happy people, even when less-than-thrilling occurs. When the shit hits the fan, I think it's a matter of what we do with what lands.

And, I feel like a lot of articles about positivity and gratitude gloss over that point, or worse, over-simplify the act of re-framing things in a positive light as to ignore associated feelings or lessen the importance of underlying issues associated with perceived negativity. Because, let me tell you, sleuthing out the underlying causes of something that is a menace in your life can be about as positive as it gets.

There is a fine balance here, and that is the balance between making lemonade from lemons (thus acknowledging that the lemons exist, taking responsibility for them, and moving the story along) versus pretending the lemons are something they are not in order to make them more acceptable and deal-able, because it feels way, way supremely inauthentic to me to re-frame a situation merely for the sake of not wanting to feel something deeply or fearing what might arise if we were to feel something too deeply.

There is a blog I read often called Zen Habits. They have a guest post up about gratitude that is perhaps one of the better I've yet to see on the subject.

1 comment:

bizQuirk said...

I had to leave a dear, dear friend behind, and terminate regular (though not all) contact, because she started to subscribe to the "Secret" based, always positive, never say anything bad, true, plain.

She would say: "Hi, Alan, how you doing today?"

I would rely, at that time in my life, "not so good honey, tough times, I can't catch a break".

She: "I cant listen to negative thoughts, Alan, until you start saying that things are great, are good, and be positive.

If you can't speak your mind to friend, in hard times, who can you talk to. I'll be the first to admit that there are some folks close to me, including my dad, for which everything is shit. After a while, I turn them off. They could be sitting on a golden throne and life would stink.

I'm not like that, I experienced a career meltdown that left me questioning who the heck I was, essentially. If my friend couldn't hear that at that time, due to some cockeyed dime store book, then I had to leave her behind.

I knew that "the Secret" was bullshit when I saw that they were marketing a replica of what could only be called, 'an Aladdin's Lamp', for 85 dollars.