C onfession: This hasn’t been a “reasons to love” year for me. I’ve never been a glass-half-full super-sunshine type, but I’ve never been a curmudgeonly cynic, either. I like things to go my way. I like there to be enough eggs for breakfast, clean socks that match and blue sky when I’m on vacation. And as I get older, I admit to skewing a little more toward conditional happiness, and lately I feel like there’s tons of stuff messing with my usual mojo.
A lot of us feel that our state of mind is dependent on what others do and say. And let me be oh, so clear: what others do and say in this current American climate can not only jack with our happiness, but it can jack with our liberties, our decency and our sense of safety in our bodies and in our communities. So this isn’t a just-get-over-it happiness message.
I’m talking about shifting to the kind of happiness expectations where, eh, I’m not waiting for you to make me happy, I’ve got a pretty good handle on going after it myself. And for me, that’s comes down to gratitude.
I know Oprah has told us to keep our lovely gratitude journal at the bedside, and no one would argue that writing down three things you’re grateful each night for is a bad idea, but it just doesn’t usually happen for me because I have a very full nightstand and tend to pass out holding my laptop while watching Mozart in the Jungle.
One trick I learned, when feeling not especially grateful, was to look at something and just—well, just fake it. “That is my favorite flower. That is my favorite color sky. Here is my favorite dish. This is my favorite time of day. That’s my favorite building. She is my favorite neighbor.” Give it a try. Once you get rolling on favorite-ing things, it starts to gather powerful momentum, even if I do not exactly love marigolds, loading the dishwasher or the post office.
Here in NoCo there are a lot of favorites for me, and a lot of reasons to love. This issue’s cover story was an easy one to create and one that conjures up a lot of happiness. Nesting eagles. Group bike rides. Open-minded neighbors. Drive-in movies. Authentic green chile. Dogs. The more you think about it, the more there is to celebrate. And sometimes, no matter how much we are carrying, how “realistic” we are, what injustice we see or work we need done, we need a little unapologetic gratitude for the good that is. If we don’t take time for that, we risk our sanity and losing the energy that motivates us to get up create, fight, work, think, love, carry on.
Our list, like the favorites, is just a way to get going, to build momentum. Happiness awaits.