Gratitude day 29

I am grateful for Farley’s recent debut of his new performance, the Monster ABCs. And I quote, “SING WITH MEEEEE!!!”

I am grateful for this TED talk that I watched while eating lunch at my desk today. Ted talks are frequently mind-blowing; this one was heart-blowing. In it, Brene Brown reveals some observations that resonate as true for me; about living whole-heartedly, courageously, and embracing vulnerability. All this is easier said than done, mind you. It’s frankly not even that easy to say, in public, for a guy like me.

I am grateful for my house. I like it. There’s lots of light. Even while it’s the wretched hive of littered coloured plastic and unfolded laundry that it currently is, it’s still bright when it is sunny and not a bad place to be, not a bad place to be at all.

A few words about this whole Gratitude thing

So, you may have noticed, after several years of very sporadic blog entries I’ve starting posting about 3 things I am grateful for on a daily basis for the last while. Why? 3 reasons.

1) Everyone else was doing it on FaceBook

I had seen a bunch of Facebook friends posting about gratitude every day for 3 days, or a week, or whatever. I kept thinking, that’s a good idea, I should do that.

2) I had listened to this interview on CBC where I learned that gratitude promotes happiness.

This is really the catalyst that made me start. Neuropsychologist Rick Hanson states that we are predisposed to remember negative experiences, but by reflecting on the positive ones we can train our brain to burn in the pathways that are required to hang on to that positivity in a more habitual way, and make us happier. Well, I’d like to be happier, so here I am reflecting on positive experiences. I like putting it here on the internet because this way, I’m accountable, so I’m reflecting more as I write. It’s the internet, so it’s an indelible record – hopefully one day me, or someone who gives a cuss about me will find this and get a better understanding of who I am right now.

3) I’ve been thinking a lot about entitlement, and I think it’s not good for anybody. Further, I think gratitude is the antidote for entitlement.

In my efforts to raise kids and rase’em right, one can’t help but to reflect on how the behaviours I want to correct probably come from me. It’s hard to admit, but I think my through my background and experience I’ve developed a sense of entitlement. I’m a white male in a western democracy. That right there gives me all the privilege I need to feel like the world owes me something. Where’s my high paying 9 to 5 job? Where’s my new car? Why is this house a mess? I took the free ride from my family through university. I deserve what’s mine!

I think it’s hard to be around entitled people. Generally, they can be real jerks sometimes. Only recently have I begun to see my own entitlement for what it is. Turns out, the truth is that entitlement is painful for the entitled, too. That disappointment you feel about your station in life? Might be something else, but there’s a good chance that disappointment, right there, is entitlement.

Often, my kid exclaims “Where’s dessert?” or “This toy you just gave me isn’t the big blue Super Action Man one, I WANT THE BIG BLUE SUPER ACTION MAN ONE!!!”. While my knee-jerk reaction is to blame them for this outrageous behaviour, about 5 seconds reflection draws me to the inescapable conclusion that they are learning about what the world owes them from me. Also a key factor: they are learning how to respond to that notion by watching what I do as well.

Which is to say, if I am thinking there is something wrong with my kids’ behaviour, there’s probably something I should be looking at about my own behaviour. So in this instance, I say, CUSS YOU, ENTITLEMENT. Then, I try to have a little gratitude, and I try to do it every day on this blog.


 

ONE MORE THING

As I post all this gratitude stuff, I am aware of how posts all about how great life is can lead to unhappiness. And so, I’m writing this disclaimer: As I post about the things I am grateful for, I am editing out the stuff I am ABSOLUTELY NOT grateful for. The tone is always pretty cheerful in these posts, but the honest truth is that a significant amount of the time I am writing them, I am struggling to come up with one good thing to say about my day.

It’s worth the struggle though, because when I decide to look for it, I see that great things big and small happen to me all the time. The fact is, I’d probably miss those things if I didn’t bother to reflect on them.

 

Gratefulness day 7

I am grateful for Netflix, and TV in general. There, I said it. That’s the honest truth. We try not to watch too much, but last night, after the kids were down, Julie and I popped some popcorn and watched a movie. It was swell just to hang out and the ritual of movie selection makes the whole event seem a little more ceremonious. Then, this morning, Coop watched cartoons while we got a chance to sleep in. Screen time has it’s downsides, but movies and popcorn and peace in the morning are some pretty big upsides, too.

I am grateful for lentils. I recently re-discovered them, and have been making vats of lentil soup every week to bring in for lunch. Lentils are cheap, healthy, convenient and delicious.

I am grateful for Cottage Cheese Pancakes. They are delicious, and higher in protein and lower in carbs. This means I can eat a big stack of them, and not feel like I am hungover for the rest of the day, which is what happens with standard grade pancakes. Want the recipe? Here it is:

Cottage Cheese Pancakes

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 C flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 C Cottage Cheese
  • 3/4 C Yogurt
  • 1tsp Vanilla

Directions:

  1. Throw all the things in a blender. Put the lid on the blender and turn it on. Let it go for a good long while, until it’s all smooth, like pancake batter is supposed to be.
  2. Make pancakes.
  3. Eat them.

My 40th Birthday

Apologies in advance for a grumpy, narcissistic blog post.

I turned 40 today. I find myself asking, “How the Hell did this happen?”.

The answer to that question is obvious, and really, turning 40 is much better than not turning 40. The truth is, I have a lot of genuine gratitude for the things in my life I know to be thankful for.

But still, 40. In all my days, 40 has seemed old. Now that I’m here, 40 still seems old. 40 is older than I feel, and how I feel is still not as young as I’d like to feel.

I know some of you are reading this thinking, “40 is young!”. I’d bet you didn’t feel that way when you turned 40 though. I’ll be honest: if you did, I don’t want to hear about it.

It’s funny, Coop has recently learned he’s mortal, and he isn’t too happy about mortality either. Turns out that after nearly 4 decades, a finite lifespan is still a bummer when you stop to think about it. Reading Charlotte’s Web has been therapeutic for both of us, though

The trick is probably not to think about it too much. I’ll get over this in a day or two, I bet.

I might have to open a bottle of wine tonight.