Monday 18 November 2019

Working it out... I've an aptitude for gratitude

Richard Dawkins
Richard Dawkins

John Masterson

I was sitting with a friend discussing Richard Dawkin's recent lecture in TCD where he said that children needed to be "protected" from religion. My companion and I were at one with Richard on that point, and we both agreed that we were grateful that we had been spared indoctrination. Then she dropped a bit of a bombshell.

"But I still do my five things to be grateful for every day," she told me.

"Grateful to who?" I shrieked, fearing that her sanity was going and that she was about to lecture me on the power of prayer next.

Grateful to nobody or nothing she told me. Just grateful. She explained how each day she takes time out to think of five things that she is grateful for in life. She told me it generally tended to put her in good humour, and helped her think more kindly about the world. "You should try it," was her unasked for advice. "And it is not a competition," she warned me. "It can be small things and big things and they can change as often as you like. Don't take it too seriously," I was told. "Just do it."

So here goes. Well I suppose I am eternally grateful that I got such a good start in life. The older I get, the more I value growing up in a happy, well-balanced family who valued education, friendship and hard work and hated bigotry, pomp and ceremony. Every argument and laugh around the dinner table was worth having. There were plenty of both. Mealtimes were never dull. At times, it was a bit energetic for the visitors, but most joined in.

Second -and I have written of this one previously - every day at some stage I think how lucky I am to have always been very healthy. I do make some effort, but most of it is genetics and I had no control over that. I often look at family carers and am lost in admiration.

Third, I suppose I am eternally grateful that my life is varied and interesting, and always has been. I have seen a lot of this world and met a lot of fascinating people from just about every walk of life, some of whom even ended up being friends.

My fourth has to be music. I always remember my mother telling me of her great uncle who was blind. He loved music and regularly remarked that he was so glad that it was his sight he had lost and not his hearing. I can understand that. I would miss Mozart, the Beatles and many more.

That covers a fair old spectrum. I am beginning to wonder is there much left. Perhaps I am making too much of this. But I have found already that this simple exercise induces a pleasant disposition. And it seems to make one 'other'-centered and not self-centered as I would have predicted. Tomorrow I intend to give my time to five more trivial things. Perhaps the habit will take hold.

And my fifth? That is easy, and a bit of a cheat. I am grateful that she told me about this little idea. It is quite good. I haven't felt better in ages.

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