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Posts Tagged ‘gratitude’

About this time last year, I was going Full Dark Gothic on ringing (or, more accurately, “wringing”) out the old year. 2016 was a tough year for us here at Chez G, filled with deaths and troubles and disappointments galore, and though we survived it, we didn’t always manage to do it with style.

2017 has been difficult, too, with the wholesale breakdown of norms on both personal and global stages, but while difficult—incredibly so, at times—it wasn’t as painful as 2016. So, while I don’t feel particularly hopeful about what’s coming after 2017, I don’t feel as bloodied as I did coming into it. As a result, this holiday season has been, for us, pretty good.

For all of you, I hope your holidays have been peaceful, fun, and filled with love.

In the new year, let’s try to be grateful for the little things that brighten our days, like that new pair of warm winter socks or that bowl of homemade soup or the sound of rain or the smell of a loved one’s hair or the way your dog greets you when you come home.

Let’s try to remember that the person on the other side of the argument is not a demon, but a person like us in many ways, with many of the same concerns and challenges, and strive to discover that common ground that we know lies between us.

Let’s try to counter the chaos with kindness, the anger with empathy, the fear with understanding, the pain with love.

Let’s try to be good, to ourselves, and to each other.

Thank you all for taking time out of your busy lives to read my words, this past year. I hope you all stick around for what’s next.

Best,

k

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There is nothing so infuriating to my liberal mind than FWPs–First World Problems–and this week I have been beset with them.

Why do I find them so infuriating? Because with each FWP, with each annoyance, with each disruption to my life and my regular routine, as I climb the mountain of frustration, as I reach the pinnacle, the apex of exasperation, I am also acutely aware of how lucky I am.

I know that, should I step away from the desk in my home office, take my iPad and a fresh cup of coffee out onto the deck and wirelessly tippy-tap my woes out into the social medium, my friends (who are also online) will rally to my side, nod sagaciously (albeit virtually), and say “There, there” in their myriad, understanding ways. I also know that my rant, were it to come before the eyes of someone outside my tiny, privileged world, someone who had real problems, it would be met with gaping incredulity.

  • I have a connection to the internet.
  • I have a handful of devices with which I can connect to the internet.
  • I can connect to the internet wirelessly.
  • I can connect from my home.
  • I have a deck on which I can take a break from my job.
  • I have a job I can do from my home.
  • I have a job.
  • I have a home. 
  • I have fresh coffee.
  • I have water. In my home.
  • I have food. In my home.
  • I have a loving spouse.
  • I am healthy.

So, as the top of my brain is screaming because the latest upgrade to Widget-Master 19 has completely destroyed my DirectAccess Connectivity Assistance Service, thus forcing me to lose two whole days’ worth of work as I re-install and re-configure everything on my workstation, as my inner Time Management Center goes ballistic because the weeds in the back garden are growing faster than I can find time to pull them, and as my personal I-Want-It-All-Now nodes are confounded by rain (no drives in the convertible), the rest of me, my deep-brain reality receptors, they know that it’s all hogwash; it’s all just silliness and maundering.

In short, I’ve got it good, and I’m going to shut up, now.

k

Simple Living

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Back when I was a theist, a few times each year I would go on a fast. From sunset on the first day to nightfall on the next, I would take in nothing but water. It wasn’t easy but then again, it wasn’t supposed to be.

There are many days when I’m so involved in a project that I simply forget to eat until 2 or 3pm. But, of course, we humans are contrary creatures, and never appreciate a thing until we are deprived of it. As a result, during a fast I was always hungry right out of the gate, and hungrier by the next afternoon than I would have been under other conditions.

The main purpose of a fast, in my estimation, is to enforce an atmosphere of introspection, and to instill a sense of gratitude for the most basic things in life. By intentionally depriving myself of food, the most basic requirement, the mind quickly turns inward. Reflection and meditation come easily, and the things that plague our everyday lives lose all importance in comparison.

I have extended this practice to other areas with good effect. When life begins getting to me, I go on a “modernist fast” in an attempt to reboot my thinking and my perspective. If you are interested in simplifying your life, I recommend this heartily. Some things I have done in the past:

  • For a week
    • Give up junk TV shows, news shows, or turn off the TV altogether
    • Take mass transit everywhere, and walk to places whenever possible
    • Give up a vice, a guilty pleasure, dining out, etc.
    • Wash all dishes by hand (sounds goofy, but it’s rather meditative after a while)
  • For a day
    • Give up food
    • Turn off your Blackberry
    • No internet!
    • Do as much as you can by hand

I’ve even gone so far as to try to go the whole day with limited use of electricity. I tell you, spend a whole evening without it—no television, no stereo, no dishwasher, just sitting around with your loved ones, talking or playing a game by candlelight—and your perspective really changes. After all, some people live like this every day.

I find that these Modernist Fasts help me keep my priorities straight, and show me just how much in life I have to be grateful for. Gratitude and humility—appreciating what you have and realizing how lucky you are—really help build inner peace.

k

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