30 September 2012

Pollyanna is alive and well...

At some point in the recent weeks when I have been too rushed to write very much here, my friend Pauline mentioned a programme on PBS in which Shawn Achor “pitches happiness as an advantage and as a personal responsibility”. She was taking up his challenge in this respect by “trying one of his suggested strategies ... writing down 3 things that I am grateful for, every day for 21 days”. She commented that by the eighth day it was helping her to confront bad news.
It's an exercise I've heard advocated many times, and it always seems a worthwhile one – but this time, being short of time to write anything discretionary of any length, I gave it a try.
The main problem was choosing just three things from the gamut available in in a day. In the end I settled on picking a quiet moment (sometimes at the end of the day, sometimes at its beginning, sometimes in between), picking up stylus and tablet, and quickly jotting down the first three that came to mind. This didn't produce a very profound list (often, after jotting my three, I would think of a dozen things for which I was far more grateful), but it enabled me to stick to the task without getting bogged down ... and besides: who, in the end, is qualified to say which gratitudes are or are not more and/or less valuable?
Having today between asked by another friend how I manage to always remain so imbecilically cheerful all the time, I thought I would dig out the results.
Below the fold is my list. Well, not the whole list, but close ... there ought to be 69 items, but some related to identifiable people who might not want the items recorded here ... so you'll find only sixty. Rather than presenting them three by three, one day after another, as I wrote them, I have randomised them (using the RAND() function in a spreadsheet, if you're interested) to emphasise that there is no hierarchy of gratitude: each is a self contained grace in and of itself.
I've never used a fold in the Growlery before, by the way, even though I like them a lot and think that they are a great idea. They were not available in the old style Blogger editor, which in every other respect I referred to the new one. Now that Blogger (in other words, Google) has forced me to use the horrible new editor by simply removing the old one, I might as well make use of this one positive aspect (there you are ... in true Pollyanna style, I find it possible to be grateful for the fold even as a beef about the editor!) Expect to see more folds, from now on.

  • The many small kindnesses which I see done by one person to another, amidst the selfish hubbub of city life.
  • The fact that I have never, ever, felt the need to "take the edge off my day".
  • My students and all that they teach me
  • Mangoes
  • The astonishing blue of the sky
  • Living at just the right time to be part of the incredible move into the "third wave" information age which has changed everything utterly, whilst at the same time being able to do so in possession of skills which are soon to be forgotten from before that wave started.
  • My partner's love (this is number one every day, all day)
  • Colour
  • On rhe day that a good friend received bad medical news: twenty something years of his freindship, wisdom and inspiration..
  • My brothers.
  • The smell of rain on dusty dusty pavements.
  • Friends who share their adventures with me
  • Laughter
  • The voice of Sevara Nazarkhan
  • Woodland waterfalls
  • The sheer diversity amongst people of good will
  • Life.
  • The curve of a snail's shell
  • Evenings
  • Being alive at a time and place where some things are, painfully slowly and in a very geographically patchy manner, gradually getting better for the weak, the powerless, the vulnerable and the dispossessed.
  • Free speech
  • The gradual (albeit painfully slow) increase in social justice within liberal democratic societies
  • The generally high (albeit not perfect) level of individual freedom enjoyed by the society within which I am lucky enough to live
  • The beautiful shapes of typography
  • The whole of literature
  • My parents
  • The sound of children playing.
  • The generous forgiveness of friends when I fall short of my obligations to them
  • Convolvulus
  • Mornings
  • The global village
  • The amazing resilience of the young, in face of circumstances which ought to make them give up.
  • The miracle of sunrise
  • Second hand bookshops, physical or virtual, wherever I may find them
  • J S Bach
  • Friends who hold up verbal mirrors to me and to my world, showing me what I already know but haven't seen.
  • The Kyle of Tongue
  • The global (albeit insufficient) fall in infant mortality
  • The sound of birdsong.
  • All those people who are passionate about something – whatever the something may be
  • Living in a country where there is, for most, usually enough to eat.
  • The sound of wind in the trees (but not so strong that lives are threatened)
  • The forgotten, unknown, unsung inventors of rice cakes and houmous
  • The anthropomorphic humour of watching starlings: natures own three stooges show.
  • The dunes of Sutherland
  • Suzanne Valadon
  • Good friends
  • The balletic wonder of badgers by moonlight.
  • A life in which I "work" at what I enjoy at worst, love at best.
  • Waking to the sound of surf breaking on rocks.
  • Glorious clouds of campanula carpatica in my garden wall (I don't care if it is weakening the mortar!)
  • My sisters-in-law
  • Texture
  • My childhood
  • Early morning mist over riverside meadows
  • Pauline's suggestion of this gratitudes exercise
  • My nieces and nephew
  • Light and shade
  • Stars on a clear wilderness night
  • The delicate smoky pearlescent pink of cirrus clouds just after sunset.

1 comment:

Jasmine said...

*grin* A wonderful list. I did wonder what 'Convolvulus' was, my first guess was some kind of gynecological problem, which I thought would be an odd thing to be grateful for, but then I figured it takes all sorts to make a world after all. Having googled it, I can see the flowers are very pretty, but I hate the bindweed that's choking the countryside, so I'm going to pretend that my first guess was right and that you're just a delightfully strange man.

Long ago I found myself in the depths of such a profound clinical depression that in desperation I went to the GP and begged him to give me some kind of pill to take the pain way, despite my aversion to medication. I fell into despair when he told me it would take 4-6 weeks to kick in, and I didn't know how the hell I would manage to wait that long.

After a few hours of moping I kicked myself in the ass and decided I'd have to do something - so I threw myself into tackling depression. I read everything I could get my hands on, some brilliant, some pseudo-scientific nonsense, a lot of self-help things, overhauled my diet and forced myself to exercise. I also began writing a journal, but I decided straight away that it had to be positive. Starting with writing five things I was grateful for each day. That seemed impossible at first, and I didn't always manage five things, but after a few weeks the difference was amazing, and I put most of it down to looking for the positives. I became annoyingly cheerful within six months, truly sickeningly sweet. I'm starting a new journal tonight.

I like that you put your partner's love at the top of your list each day, you soppy old bean you.

When I asked you how you always remain so cheerful I don't think I used the word "imbecilically", but your addition made me smile, so thank you! Looking forward to more folds...