I’ve taken the term “thanksgiving” literally during the month of November. My Life Hacks 2017 daily calendar on November 1st said: You can “rewire” your brain to be happy by simply recalling three things you’re grateful for every day for twenty-one days. My reaction was to take on coming up with three things I’m grateful for each day as challenge to prove the author of that Life Hacks page wrong. There was no way gratitude could possibly rewire my currently troubled mind. I then realized that the page was probably printed before Donald Trump became president of the United States, and they couldn’t have known how risky it was to claim that happiness was an option for Americans who are increasingly horrified by their leader’s antics on a daily basis.
I had heard before that it was possible to form a new habit in three weeks, but rewire the brain … no way! But, I grudgingly opened a new notebook and labeled it Gratitude Journal. I was pretty sure I would just be tearing out three weeks’ worth of garbage pages and would ruin a perfectly good new notebook. After I had acknowledged every person who had shown me kindness and was still talking to me (because so many in my life have taken offense over me speaking about my dissatisfaction toward Trump and the people who support him), I quickly ran out of people. So, I acknowledged dead people who had made a difference in my life, and I acknowledged the sunshine, the trees, and fall colors that made me happy. I had days where all I could honestly say I was grateful for was the ability to walk on my own, eat on my own, and use the bathroom unassisted.
Being happy is clearly a habit. I know that everything that sucked about my life prior to November 1st still sucks, but I look at it so differently now. After three weeks of forcing myself to be thankful for at least three things each day, I am genuinely happy. And I am no longer forcing it. Instead of getting stressed out, my mind immediately looks for the positive in every situation that comes up. That item was sold out by the time I got to Target’s Black Friday sale: there’s probably a better gift idea I can come up with. I had a disturbing dream: it’s very creative material to add to the novel I’m writing. The new door that was installed on our game closet is too short for the hole in the wall: now we get to have a fresh new wall!
Speaking of walls, Donald Trump is still president. My reaction to that once disturbing fact is that he has been an instrument for drawing out the true nature of a lot of people in my life and in political positions. I am grateful to know what people in my world are really thinking, instead of continuing to have their racist, self-centered thoughts concealed from me and the rest of society. I am generally grateful for knowledge; knowledge is power. I believe that we happily optimistic informed Americans can power through these troubling political times and emerge as better people by the time our next presidential election rolls around. Yes, I am so truly happy that I can even publicly say I am grateful for Donald Trump.
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© 2017 by Julie Ryan. All rights reserved
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