Feeling grateful is good, and experiencing gratitude as one of your most sincere and deepest reactions to things is one of the greatest gifts and feelings in the world. It makes you feel light — invincible, even.
So it makes sense that self-help “experts” push people to “write down things they’re grateful for,” or people talk about making “gratitude journals.”
But while this is great in theory, we often short-change ourselves, and, frankly, cheapen the overall point.
Too often, people only express gratitude for “universal” things, and it comes across like they’re terrified of their own singular human existence.
When we clip our gratitude and pretend we only feel it for culturally common things available to most people around them — sunshine, stars, laughter, food — it makes us seem petrified of stepping out as an individual, so desperate for “sameness” that we refuse to cite anything unique, effectively undercutting the entire exercise, and kinda castrating our own existence.
And, yeah, don’t get me wrong — I too am thankful for sunshine, stars, laughter, and food. (And the sound of birds in the morning, my home, my partner, my job, my health, my family, my friends, safe drinking water, health care, self-established financial security, the Internet, my colleagues, my boss, a middle-income upbringing, my sense of adventure and my drive to take care of my own…)
But I’m also grateful for a lot of other shit, too. The kind of things that define my day to day on a more granular level.
So, at the risk of hugely humble-bragging (I don’t care, and neither should you), here’s a list of Other Shit I’m also grateful for.
1. The fact that cilantro doesn’t taste like “soap” to me
It’s not that I’m crazy about cilantro — I’m not one of Those People — and in fact, I am part of the apparent 0.1% of the general population who feels aggressively “neutral” about it. You wanna put it in the dish? Fucking fine. Wanna keep it out? Also okay. You gonna ask my opinion? Literally don’t care. It’s pretty much parsley as far as I’m concerned. (But if you’re gonna push me on it, I’ll tell you “sure, add it,” mostly because everything looks prettier with a lil leafy green garnish.) So I don’t care. But at least it doesn’t taste like soap.
2. The fact that I do not hate the taste of protein powder
It makes my annual “health kicks” sooo much easier. I can dump that puppy into a blender bottle with water, shake it up, and off I go.
In fact, the “taste” I hate more is the sickening slew of artificial sweeteners most of them have. I don’t want anything that tastes like knock-off Yahoo or melted, day-old discount ice cream, and I don’t want the mouthfeel to make me wonder if this is what licking a small, stuffed velour bunny would be.
I recently bought “plain” protein powder and it was everything I ever wanted. Does it taste “sweet?” No. And thank god. Does it taste vaguely of “drywall?” Maybe. But that’s the flavor profile I’d rather have when my brain is amped for “simple sustenance” over, I don’t know, “sick, sticky concoction.”
3. The fact that I DO hate the taste of soda
I feel for people who consider this their biggest dieting vice. I really do. Which is why I am also immensely grateful I don’t share it.
(Same goes for “candy,” but fewer people cite that as their weakness.)
4. The fact that pasta brings me no joy whatsoever
I don’t “get” pasta. I just don’t understand it. And yes, kibbles, I’ve had “good” pasta. I’ve been to Italy and eaten at non-touristy places. I’ve had proud Italians crank me out some home-cooked efforts. I’ve eaten it. I just don’t get it.
No offense, because it’s just my palate, but to me pasta is bland as balls — like eating boring biscuit dough; simple flour and water mixed together to a paste. It tastes like something that’s meant to be served to small children with colic. The “flavor,” the texture — there is just no joy in this.
And sure, it’s the carbs as well — what a woeful waste (in my mind.) Which is why my preference against it makes me feel grateful. But even if the best pasta in the world was negative calories or had the protein macros of my powder above, I still would sit there, staring it down thinking, “ugh god, not again.”
5. The fact that so many vegetables do
My favorite food as a preschooler was broccoli. BROCCOLI. And we’re talking plain, steamed, no butter no cheese no salt. This has only evolved as I’ve gotten older.
6. The fact that you can still eat eggs on many diets
That and avocados, leafy greens, black coffee, and salt. I’m not joking about any of those.
7. The first beer with someone you’re really excited to be with
PSYCHOLOGICALLY / PERSONALLY
Here’s where things are about to get much more humble-braggy.
1. The fact that I don’t hate traffic
In fact, I think it’s kind of zen? I don’t know, man… it’s just a fact of life and there’s nothing you can do so why let it have this much control over your headspace? Raging over traffic is about as rational as silently losing your shit or thrashing and cussing because it’s raining. Like… what is wrong with you?
2. The fact that I don’t have an addictive personality
Do I enjoy getting a little overly indulgent — preoccupied; borderline obsessive even — about a new interest? Heck yes.
Feeling this surge of energy and enthusiasm is one of life’s greatest joys, and I feel bad for anybody who goes through life dodging it because they’re too terrified of their own shadow.
But I also feel very grateful that I can step away whenever I want. I smoked socially in my 20s — and then stopped. I can drink every single day — and then go sober for months. I’ve tried recreational drugs — and then set them back down. I can indulge wildly in limerence feelings for a crush from afar — without ruining my life.
This one matters more than most people may realize, because alcoholism and drug addiction has trickled down one side of my family, silently taking out one person per generation. I am grateful to step away when I choose.
3. The fact that I don’t struggle to make decisions
Much like the soda (but even moreso), I understand that this is a common plight and while I really don’t understand what the hang-up is or how to help people get past it (“build confidence?” “develop intrinsic motivation??”), I do feel for them, and, again, feel very fortunate this is not my struggle. (I have my own.)
4. Related: motivation / independence / self-sufficiency
This 500% has its downsides as well, but it certainly has its benefits, too.
5. The fact that I can calculate tips in my head
I feel for people who can’t. I really do. (ps: move the decimal point over one digit to the left for 10%; double that number for 20%; take the sexy split for 15%.)
6. Vaginal/penetration orgasms (and a strong libido)
Look, I understand many people cannot / do not and I am in no way trying to make them feel worse. I am simply honoring my own simple existence over here, and it’s because I know many others don’t that I feel so grateful.
7. Waking up early without an alarm (and being a morning person)
That whole “waking up 1 minute before the alarm goes off” is one of my favorite simple pleasures in life, and I have no idea what people are talking about when they bemoan it.
8. The fact that I don’t really love buying shit or traveling?
Look at all this m$ney it frees up for other bullshit — like booze and skydiving!
1. When the universe aligns and coincidence delivers exactly what you wanted
Like a cancellation when you’re on the waitlist for something, or a flight delay when you’re running late, or a “weather hold” when you need to make a beer run, or whatever.
2. Brake lights
And brakes. I mean, just imagine a world without them. (If you text while driving a lot, them “not existing” might be pretty easy to imagine, seeing as how you often don’t see them anyway…)
3. Foam rollers
Mine is still a relatively new purchase but already one of my favorite possessions.
4. Discovering new songs you’re about to listen to on repeat for weeks
And for partners who tolerate it.
5. Platonic cuddles
They’re kind of the best sometimes? When the stars align like this, the whole universe stands still.
WANNA MAKE YOUR OWN?
Go for it!
Just please, for the love of tea, include more than “sunshine” and “safe drinking water.” We’re all grateful for those — dig deeper. You’ve got more.