Grateful people are not necessarily ones whom the world has showered with gifts; people of modest financial means or who have suffered personal tragedies nevertheless may report themselves as grateful, while the well-to-do and good-looking may exhibit little gratitude.
"To say we feel grateful is not to say that everything in our lives is necessarily great," Emmons says. "It just means we are aware of our blessings. If you only think about your disappointments and unsatisfied wants, you may be prone to unhappiness. If you're fully aware of your disappointments but at the same time thankful for the good that has happened and for your chance to live, you may show higher indices of well-being."
I turned 31 this year and yet so often I feel like I'm 31 going on 13. It's not just the number but the way I handle things. I want to truly be 31, to live up to what still sounds old to my ears. I don't want to be a baby and yet sometimes, okay, a lot of the time, my initial impulse is to go to the darkest places, the most disturbed and distraught, the ones that tell me how awful and worthless I am. The ones that make it seem like there is no way out, even though if I look around objectively, there are ups and downs but I'm in a place I never could've imagined. I have been meaning to write a gratitude list and yet it's hard when I go to those places, when all I see are the to dos, the should've dones, the failures, the flaws. I feel like I don't know my own body or my mind and it's confusing to just be at such an utter loss. Not all the time, but enough of the time that I don't know where to go with it. I've spent the last 3 weeks running around as much as I could, saying yes to everything because I didn't want to go home, didn't want to face the really hard parts, the ones that even now make me feel there is and always will be something wrong with me.
I've been grateful in fits and spurts, grateful at things, at moments, at triumphs, but not the kind that Beliefnet is talking about, not the kind that requires you to feel it even when you don't, to see beyond the darker moments to the future, to accept that it will get better...and it will get worse. That I have a lot of power within that, but not all of it. It's not necessarily that I want it to be easy; I think I'd feel antsy if everything always fell into place. But I don't want my life to be a giant struggle either. I want to remember to be grateful, always, and not just when I need to to drag myself out of the mental pit. I want to work on myself so I can be the person I want to be, the person I wanted to see in S., the person who isn't perfect, and doesn't try to be, but does learn from her mistakes. I am not there, far, far from it, but I can see a little bit of where I want to go and know my task is to start moving there, baby step by baby step. I'm so tempted to edit what I wrote below, edit and prettify and clarify and order, as opposed to just letting it be, but, for once, I will resist temptation.
I'm grateful for my family, especially Bess and Adam, who make sure I know they are always here for me.
I'm grateful for the fabulous vacations I got to take this year.
I'm grateful to Lori and Eric for including me in their wedding weekend, and to Aaron for encouraging me to go.
I'm grateful to Shirley for recommending Clara to me for the haircut.
I'm grateful that my dad found someone who, while his opposite in so many ways, is also a wonderful match, and am grateful I got to be part of their wedding.
I'm grateful to be able to help my grandfather with his memoir, and to have grown closer to him by bonding over being writers.
I'm grateful to have met my agent, Lori, and her immense belief in me, and all that that has set in motion. I'm grateful to the editors who believed in my book, even when there was no book, who pushed me to conceive of it and made me believe I could do it.
I'm grateful to cupcakes for being so adorable and sweet and introducing me to a whole world of people.
I'm grateful for going to BEA and being utterly overwhelmed by books for the 5th year in a row, and especially for getting to meet Brooke Warner, my psychic twin, who made me feel like I have something to offer and whose respect I completely treasure.
I'm grateful to Mikki for asking me to be on the SXSW panel.
I'm grateful to all the crazy relationships this year brought my way, the good and the bad and the ones that were both at once. I'm grateful that after all the drama and crying and cursing and ridiculousness, for the friendships they've left me with.
I'm grateful to the new crowd, especially Brett and Emily and Courtney, who are so real and present and funny and creative and energetic and who make me smile.
I'm grateful to all the babies I've gotten to meet and drool over photos of and send gifts to, and all the mamas like Elise who let me be a total dork over their kids.
I'm grateful to all the people who made In The Flesh such a success this year. Special kudos for going the extra mile and giving such memorable performances that nobody who was there will ever forget to Jessica Cutler and Todd Levin.
I'm grateful that K. is back in my life, that we can talk about Jenny Schechter and TDL and the past and the present. I'm grateful she can make me spit out my tea and kiss me on the sidewalk. I'm grateful that we can still walk into any room and own it. I'm grateful that she's learned and shown me that we always have the ability to change, to grow, to become better people inside and out and do not have to submit to our worst instincts.
I'm grateful for my health, which I take utterly and entirely for granted.
I'm grateful for the opportunities that have fallen into my lap this year, for the chance to write blurbs, which still feels strange and surreal, for the interest people have shown in my writing that has in turn impacted what I think I can do.
I'm grateful to S. not just for introducing me to some amazing New Yorkers, and not for breaking my heart so spectacularly, and not even for those six crazy wild weeks. I'm grateful, as much as I'm also a lot of other things, because the past three weeks have kicked my ass in so many ways and finding the good buried underneath there, finding ways to turn anger into action, finding my own form of forgiveness, finding that I can be the better person, all I know will guide me through.
I'm grateful for some of the dialogues that opened up this year, even the ones that felt awful while they were happening. I'm grateful for the chance and the venue to say what I want. I'm grateful for my column, especially this year, and every time I get to write it, for having that space and voice.
I'm grateful for being able to listen and learn. Something happened for me while I was interviewing Dawn Eden and Wendy Shalit and I felt like maybe this is maturity, being able to go from viewing certain people in one way that, well, wasn't complimentary in the least, to being able to both agree to disagree and to finding the common ground. I'm grateful that I can do that, that I want to do that, that I don't feel like I'm "done" in any way with learning or thinking or growing.
I'm grateful to my grandmother, who at 83 is a role model of heart and joy and courage and love. I'm grateful I could be there for her in her time of need, to hold her hand and comfort her.
I am grateful for a 3 day weekend with very few plans except to see some beloved friends, read some of the books I've been hoarding, and see what New York has in store for me.
I'm grateful for anyone reading this, even as a part of me wants to turn off this blog sometimes. It's hard to not want to clarify every statement, every thought, to try to put forth "the real me," but I'm grateful that the people who get me, get me. It doesn't take long, and I know and I think they know right away. So I'm grateful that I still feel a reason to write here, even as I try to find new ways to express myself, new ways to work things out, new ways to purge. I'm grateful that I can see that the benefits outweigh the negatives.
I keep wanting to add things here in the "I hope" or "I want" or "I wish" categories. It's like running into a brick wall. Starting with "I'm grateful" doesn't really leave room for hoping, wanting, or wishing, which I seem to spend so much of my time doing. It's a challenge and not necessarily a fun one, but I am starting to see that the real work of being an adult is getting through the things that aren't easy. I think on some very basic level I see a lot of myself in S. No, not in the details, but, as horrified as I am to admit this even to myself, it's a lot like the ways I see myself in my dad. It's those worst traits, magnified and reflected back ten times larger, but just because my version may be a fraction of theirs doesn't mean it's okay. It's not. I don't want to be the girl that runs away, the girl that fucks up, the girl that self sabotages, the girl that seeks comfort in trouble and darkness, the girl that goes there because she can't figure out where else to go. That is not who I want to be, and yet it's a part of me and always will be. I have that in me, like a gene, and I can't just ignore it but I can work with it, face it head on, find a way to weave it in and then ease it out, to make a new me that doesn't resemble them. But I don't think I can do that without acknowledging where we intersect, where it's all, at some very base level, the same. I can't pretend to be above all that, at least, not to myself, if I ever want to really be the person I hope to be. And I'm grateful that I can see that. The easy thing, the thing I've been doing, is just blaming and ranting and gnawing at it, going there when anything else goes awry, instead of facing how I can change, what I can do, not for anyone else's sake, but for my own.