thankfuls. thankfuls are something we (try to) do at the beginning of our dinners. this is where we go around the table in a very casual manner and while plates are being filled and everyone in turn names a thing or two they are thankful for. sometimes there are lapses in this ritual, surely, but inevitably someone in the family pulls us out by making the observation that it's been awhile since we've last done them and we should do them now and the practice quietly resumes. while everyone has treated thankfuls with respect and cooperation there are occasions where one of the children isn't feeling it and you might hear a, "i'm thankful for everything in the world i'm thankful for" or anthony who will just look around the room and list the things he sees, "i'm thankful for ... hair and for ... food and ... glasses and ... pianos and ... pictures and ... nails and ... lights." at least he's grinning conspiratorially the whole time and will go as long as marty and i allow him.
recently we had a friend over for dinner, super-sam, and he participated in our round of thankfuls. afterward he told the table that based on some research he recently learned about, he began keeping a daily thankful journal. in his exercise, every day he wrote down a few (i can't recall exactly how many) things he was thankful for. sam said the research showed and he found that the benefits of the practice were most immediate. way sold on the idea, the next morning i added a new tab to my LIFE spreadsheet and began recording my own daily thankfuls. in my version i do three: one from my past, one from yesterday, and one for today. now having done the ritual for a few months (without missing a day) i will support the claims of super-sam and the researchers by affirming the gains are immediate, surprising and remarkable.
a few weeks into my practice i mentioned this new start-the-day exercise to someone over lunch. they thought on it a moment and called it silly, pointless and named it more of that new-age, self-helpy crap (i should add that from where i sit, this fellow is a bit of disaster on many fronts). but being across from him and not having had a good debate in a short while, i bit. we went rounds, neither making much ground with the other. then late in the exchange i asked him what he thought would happen if he began every day, that is the very first conscious thing he did after waking, remembering the worst things that ever happened to him. if he dredged up every time he'd been disappointed, or cheated, or physically hurt, or emotionally maimed or wronged or messed with. if he relived these moments, and only these sour moments every morning, did he think it would have any sort of effect on his day—either in the short term or cumulatively over time. he began arguing that such an exercise would have no effect on him and he didn't dwell in the past but lived in the present. but his points lacked the spirit of his earlier contentions, to the point that his counter-arguments ceased. i pushed on saying that if remembering the worst moments of his life could in fact sour and foul his days (his mood at least), then conversely wouldn't remembering the most celebrated moments of his life have an opposing effect. wouldn't he have a little extra confidence in his step, be quicker to smile, and slower to rile? wouldn't logic dictate this? i had begun to sway him. not enough so that he would ever start making changes, i fear he's too far gone for that. and any ground i made with him was exponentially gained upon my own brain's soil. it's echinacea 1 for the soul.
for any who fire up their own gratitude routine, an answer to the most asked question for newbies is, "can i use the same thing twice" my answer is, if you're that thankful for it yes. but if you're repeating one over and over as a crutch so you don't have to think properly, you're only flushing your own money down the toilet. one odd recurring theme from my entries is having my own clothes washer and dryer. i used to have to lug my laundry up and down three flights of stairs and over two buildings ... many times only to find one or both of the apartment washers fully in use. few things have improved my weekend like having a washer and dryer reserved for my use and never having to queue up and wait my turn. i feel lighter just telling you about it now.
1 echinacea is a vitamin known for its immune boosting properties (link)