Monday, September 21, 2020

Happy World Gratitude Day

I try to be a positive person -- and for most of my life, I didn't even have to try. Optimism and enthusiasm were part of my nature and sometimes spilled out even when I didn't want them to, often to the chagrin of those around me.

Lately, though, optimism, enthusiasm, and positivity have been harder to come by. I never wanted to become a grumpy old woman and so I keep trying to tap into the personality I know is there, under layers of fear, frustration and exhaustion. I worry sometimes that that girl is gone -- the one who, as Sara Bareilles might say, "used to be mine."

And then I discovered that today is World Gratitude Day and -- oh! -- there she is again! Imposing a moment of gratitude on her students ("Today's World Gratitude Day, guys, so we're going to take a moment and think about what we're grateful for. You can share or not -- up to you.") whether they want it or not. Injecting a bit of positive psychology to tell them why gratitude matters and how powerful it can be in reducing stress and leveling off our negativity bias. 

Flipping the glass to half full.

Not all gratitude is untinged by other emotions, though. My husband and I had gotten used to being empty nesters, but the new graduate job search in the time of COVID-19 has made my daughter a semi-permanent resident in her childhood bedroom. There have been adjustments all around, capped off with the fear that, now that I'm used to having her around again, it will be that much harder to support her eventual declaration of independence.

But mostly, I'm grateful. I love having her here and I'm trying to soak it all up as much as I can between the writing and the planning and the teaching and the grading. Most days, I feel frustrated by the sheer imbalance of my improbable balancing act but, today in particular, I'm grateful and reveling in it.

It is, after all, World Gratitude Day. What are you grateful for?

(Graphic courtesy of

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