I’ve stopped watching the television news. I’ve also turned off the news notifications on my phone. It came down to what I saw in a tweet the other day regarding the constant struggle between “I should probably be more informed about current events” and “I would like to be a functional human being with at least a vague will to live.” I decided I would like to be a somewhat functioning person without a casual drug habit. So, I’ve tried as much as possible to check out in a positive way. And for good reason, apparently. Because today I checked in on the news for like two minutes and discovered concern over a new variant, the real potential to lose abortion rights for women in this country as the now conservative majority Supreme Court hears a case from Mississippi, and yet another high school shooting with multiple fatalities. Are you kidding me? I wanted to throw my phone across the room. It reminded me of a scene from the 1987 film Roxanne starring Steve Martin, where the main character buys a newspaper from a machine (those were a thing once), reads the headline, and then puts another coin into the machine to open it so he can put the paper back. I don’t want to know all this.
I went to my meditation group meeting tonight where the theme was gratitude. We talked about how we can practice gratitude to improve our lives. There is actual science regarding how being grateful changes us in a positive way. This is what I need more of in my life. I need to pay attention to all the things that make me feel loved, supported, safe, sane, and secure, all the things I am deeply grateful for. Focusing on a pandemic that has taken over 5 million lives and doesn’t show any signs of abating is not helpful. Watching footage of terrorized teenagers after another school shooting is not helpful. Ruminating on the potential rollback of women’s rights after 50 years is not helpful. I’m not sure there’s a news story out there right now that could make me feel better. So, I am going to give gratitude a try and focus on all the good in my small universe of concern. This is the place where the most important people to me are. This is the realm that matters right now. Yes. I understand that people need to be engaged in society for positive change to come about, but society is a mess right now, and I shouldn’t be around them anyway since they could be contagious.
The next time I get overwhelmed by something, I am going to try to see instead an opportunity in that stressor for gratitude. If someone is vexing me, I am going to be grateful for the space they are giving me to grow in patience and love. Okay. Okay. Maybe I won’t succeed in that last one consistently, but you have to start somewhere.
Gratitude may not be the answer, but it has to be more positive than focusing on our shared reality, which feels not unlike watching the aftermath of a 100-car train wreck. So is anyone with me? Is it time to start a revolution of appreciation for the good we know is there but are choosing not to focus on? I’m going to need some strong positivity warriors in my camp. I’m not known for being Sally Sunshine. Glennon Doyle likes to say, “We can do hard things.” Finding gratitude these days seems like it might be a hard thing, but if Glennon says we can do it, then we can.