I am grateful for this snowy day at Lincoln Center.
Guys, this is going to sound like such a trite phrase, especially since Thanksgiving has come and gone. But I don’t think that human beings are particularly good at being grateful.
Of course, there are evolutionary reasons for this — it’s beneficial for a species to pay more attention to the bad things than to the good things, quite simply because the bad things could kill you. If you ate a poisonous plant once and almost died, it’s really important that you remember that experience and what the plant looked like. You’re not going to remember every single time you ate a non-poisonous plant, though, because it’s not important to your survival as long as you can identify which plants are safe to eat. Are you following me?
What this translates into in our current, non-plant-foraging lives (or at least, I don’t forage for plants... I wait in long lines at Trader Joe’s) is that for every negative experience that we have, we need three to five positive experiences to offset the one negative experience. You’ve definitely experienced this when you’ve had a bad day. If one bad thing happens, we tend to declare that the entire day is bad, even if there were a couple good things about the day too. We also forget negative experiences more slowly and think about them more often, and — get this — we perceive people who say negative things as more intelligent than people who say positive things.
We are not hardwired to be happy. We are not hardwired to be grateful. We are hardwired to survive.
Kinda bleak, isn’t it?
I am grateful that this library decided to paint Gunter the Penguin on their windows.
The good news is that it’s not our fault that we evolved this way. This whole idea that we “should” be happy is entirely off the mark, because that’s not what our brains are built for. But while it may not be our fault, a lot of us genuinely want to be happy, so we have to reckon with our negative minds regardless. And one of the best ways that I know how to do this is with gratitude.
The research in positive psychology on gratitude is astounding. For instance, if you were to write down three things a day that you are grateful for, and you did this for two weeks, you would reap the positive psychological benefits for up to six months. Gratitude makes us happier, more alert, more determined, more enthusiastic… the list goes on.
So today, I thought I would list some things that I really, truly enjoyed this weekend. I love doing this on a blog, because it’s so much fun to revisit. Having an online record of positive moments is like having a little snow globe of happy things that you can take out and look at whenever you want.
I am grateful that I got to see this view in Lisbon.
Of course, it makes me feel a bit self-conscious, because it seems almost like bragging. And to make it not seem like bragging, to justify my gratitude, normally I would tell you all the things that haven’t been so great in my life recently — to “prove” that I deserve to have happy moments. But I’ve been bothered recently by the idea that I or anyone else needs to justify their happiness to others. It harms us as a society to not embrace gratitude wholeheartedly, to be suspicious of each other’s happiness and question if people have “earned” it.
So I’m not going to do that today. Instead of telling you why I have earned the right to gratitude (which is a ridiculous idea to begin with), I am going to invite you write down a few things that you’re grateful for too. And if you feel like it, post it on Steemit and then leave a link to it down below! Let’s make the world a slightly more grateful place.
I am grateful for this sunset in Sintra.
With no further ado and in no particular order, here are some things I feel particularly grateful for this weekend.
This Saturday, it snowed for the first time all year. I love snow so much, possibly because it makes me feel like the world has become one big stage for the Waltz of the Snowflakes from the Nutcracker. When I woke up, I just stared out my window for a solid fifteen minutes, watching the snowflakes. And it snowed all day! It felt so cozy.
I got to know a friend much better. I’ve known her for a while, but we became a lot closer this weekend when we spent an evening that was supposed to just be us watching a Ghibli movie and eating popcorn and drinking wine. The popcorn was eaten and the wine was drank, but we never got around to the movie — instead we talked until 3:00am without realizing it, and I have a much stronger friendship with her than I did before.
I had brunch with two friends who I hadn’t seen in a while, and we laughed incredibly hard while feasting on dim sum. I am deeply grateful for pan-fried noodles, pan-friend pork dumplings, soup dumplings, shrimp rice dumplings, scallion pancakes, red bean dumplings, and the fact that one of my friends told me to put vinegar on the dumplings instead of soy sauce. The world of dumplings will never be the same.
I found out that a bubble tea place I’d been dying to try has the option of substituting soy milk for real milk in any of their drinks, which is a blessing to lactose-intolerant but bubble-tea-obsessed creatures such as myself. Also earl gray tea lattes are a thing of beauty, particularly when you are waiting in the cold to get into a dim sum restaurant.
All the snow has stayed on the tree branches, and it is beautiful.
I went to the library, and I found out that they a) have a new cafe that sells excellent brownies and b) they were having an exhibition on the Nutcracker and c) they had the book I wanted. Libraries are the best.
While looking for pictures to add to this post, I stumbled across the ones I took at SteemFest, in Lisbon. I am so incredibly grateful to vcelier for providing the financial resources that allowed me to attend SteemFest, and I am also grateful for the wonderful people that I met (particularly the firepower crew! Thank you for letting me help out!) and the beautiful memories that I have to look back on. It was a magical time.
The Owl Hours
All the photos in this post are my own work, so the usual copyright rigamarole applies. They were all taken on an iPhone 7.