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How to Become a Luckier Person Overnight

bike shadow

A few weeks ago, a neighbor I had not yet met knocked on my door to tell me that her storage locker in the basement had been broken into, and so had mine.

I went down there. The locker door was hanging open, and my bike was gone. They hadn’t cut the lock, but had instead crowbarred the hardware entirely off the plywood door, which building management had attached with four of the tiniest screws I’d ever seen.

My initial feeling was the rush of violation and dirtiness that everyone feels when they see the mess left by a thief. They touched my stuff, and now some of it is at their place.

But I ran out of indignation pretty quickly. The normal victim feelings gave way to a feeling of, “Wow, I’m really glad I’m me.”

I can afford a new bike. I’ve never felt a desire to steal from people. Aren’t I lucky that I don’t know what it’s like to enter a building illegally, and rifle through someone else’s belongings, hoping to find something I can sell for fifty bucks? I would rather lose all my possessions than be that guy. I’m also glad to know that the locker was so insecure before I put anything irreplaceable in there.

Radical gratitude

I wasn’t thinking of it at the time, but I had recently listened to a short talk about cultivating gratitude at unusual moments. Nikki Mirghafori, a computer scientist and Buddhist teacher, asked the attendees at a meditation group to experiment with being grateful for everything that happens to them, then reporting their experience.

The idea sounds ridiculous, and even hopeless, but in practice it’s quite easy, and immediately rewarding. You just ask yourself, “Can I be grateful for this too?” In my short experience doing this, the brain has a way of coming up with good reasons why yes, you can.

This practice reveals a lot about our short-sightedness. We have a rather ridiculous tendency to believe everything is either strictly good for us or bad for us, and that we can reliably determine which one it is, in the instant that thing happens.

Nikki makes an important clarification at the outset: you’re not telling yourself you should feel grateful, only to invite or explore gratitude for what happens regardless of our initial feeling about it.

I live in the city and make use of street parking every day. Most of the time I can’t find a spot on the stretch near my building, and I have to go past the building around to the long side of the block. When that happens I usually end up hundreds of yards away from the door, with groceries to unload. Predictably I curse my bad luck, and often the people who had parked there inconsiderately, or at all.

Just after I’d listened to Nikki’s talk, this happened to me again. I was on the cusp of re-enacting my normal sequence of overreaction—disappointment, maybe rage, then grumpy trudging—when I remembered the practice. Could I be grateful that I couldn’t find a spot close to the building—that what’s happening is in many ways a good thing?

The thought immediately put me into a totally different position, one where I didn’t assume I should feel any particular way about it.

Mostly I just enjoyed the walk, noticed a few of my neighbor’s yard decorations, and felt glad that carrying grocery bags two blocks isn’t particularly difficult for me. I’m lucky to be able to walk almost any distance without chronic pain or fatigue. It struck me that my neighborhood is so close to downtown yet is really peaceful and safe. I can walk through it at 4am with nothing to worry about.

These are privileges that serve me every day, although I seldom actually enjoy them, because I’m so rarely aware of them.

The sky is falling? How do you know?

I arrived at my door feeling rather thrilled with my position in life, for exactly the way things were unfolding right now. And of course, I can never know the ultimate results of parking where I wanted: my car might have been sideswiped in that spot because it’s more exposed, or maybe it will get broken into in the far–away spot. Or maybe, through some convoluted butterfly effect, either outcome could have led to my meeting an amazing new friend, or starting a nuclear war. I don’t know and can’t know.

And that’s the point. Every event has infinite repercussions, and each chain of cause-and-effect will reverberate until the end of time, and bring the whole gamut of welcome and unwelcome developments to our lives.

So every event is in a very real sense both good and bad, including illness, breakup, hardship of almost any kind. Almost all of us can see how our failed relationships, for example, made us better in some way, even if they seemed like the end of the world at the time.

The worst years of my life, in my early twenties, directly resulted in the founding of this blog, which has made my life better than I ever thought it could be. It seems very lucky that life went so wrong then.

Radical gratitude is simply a way of challenging our initial feeling that a new development is wholly bad and that our moping and anger is justified, exploring instead what might also good about it. Primarily, it does two things:

It forces us out of hypersensitive kind of autopilot we often operate under, which is based on a pretty grievous misconception: that events are isolated and are of two distinct types—good or bad—and that this goodness or badness is determined by how welcome it feels when it happens.

It also puts you into a helpful problem-solving state that always ends in gratitude for something about what has just happened—the doors it opens, the things it teaches you, the future trouble it might spare you.

Experimenting with this is also kind of fun. The more absurd it seems to be grateful, given the situation, the more interesting and fun it can be. Can I be grateful that my plans were canceled? Certainly. Can I be grateful I have a rash on my foot? Uh, let’s find out.

Any moment of annoyance or disappointment is fair game. How can you be grateful for your partner being impatient with you while you’re trying to decide your order at a restaurant? Well, you might discover that it gives you a chance to understand their hangups and fears, and perhaps your own self-defeating habits, a little better.

Can you be grateful that you’re out of coffee? That your internet is out? That your latest draft sucks? If you have a brain and a bit of curiosity, yes you can.

Radical gratitude also often reveals when we’re just being stupid. If you’ve ever been annoyed that you said you’d make an appearance at a friend’s get-together, you’re taking quite a bit for granted there. Damn, it sucks having friends, always asking me to spend time with them.

Again, being grateful for everything is not an obligation, it’s an option to experiment with. You aren’t responsible for feeling any particular way after something happens.

But that initial feeling, the horror of a locker door hanging open, doesn’t have to be the final word on what’s good and what’s not. It’s a question too complicated for our most reactive emotions to answer.

***

Photo by joe del tufo
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Elliott January 25, 2016 at 12:37 am

Love this! I actually already to this a lot, often confusing the people around me. I’m grateful that I’m at the airport and my phone ran out of battery because it pushes me to present and take in the sights and sounds. I’m grateful that you have never responded to any of my comments because it pushes me to make sure that I am making authentic comments, not because the connection will make me feel validated. I’m grateful that I’m annoyed this paragraph seems improperly formatted because it forces me to let go and not give a fuck when it doesn’t matter. That last one barely makes sense. Fun experiment! I find that the easiest and most easily applicable gratefulness response is that because X happened I must be more present or because X happened I must let go of the outcome.

David Cain January 25, 2016 at 9:10 am

I didn’t respond to your comments? Sorry Elliot! Basically I respond to the first round of comments on monday mornings, and then after that it’s kind of a crapshoot. I no longer try to respond to all comments.
Similar to what you’re saying, the most obvious upside to a lot of events, for me, is that they illuminate the things in life I have trouble letting go of, or tend to be needy about. But usually there are practical benefits to “bad” things outside of that aspect of it.

Colleen January 25, 2016 at 2:30 am

I really enjoyed this advice and your experience of it David. Thank you.

David Cain January 25, 2016 at 9:10 am

Thanks Colleen.

Zoe January 25, 2016 at 2:43 am

Wow, I love coincidence. Your articles are always relevant to something going on in my life and this is no exception. Today I was supposed to be getting on a plane for the holiday of a lifetime with my mum, 5 weeks in Singapore and New Zealand. The opportunity to go with her came to me unexpectedly in the first place (she’d been planning this trip for months, but the person she was originally going with had to cancel) and I was so happy I would get to spend so much time with her (I’m married, we live in different countries, we don’t see each other that often, she’s not getting any younger at 69).
But then last Wednesday, disaster struck in the family and we had to cancel. My mum is devastated, as this was her dream trip. She doesn’t think that at her age, she’s ever going to be able to afford to go on this trip again. It broke my heart when we spoke on the phone, because she is so convinced she can never do this again.
I’m angry, but mostly for her. But I’m also trying to find things to be grateful for and I wanted to thank you for your article, David, as it’s helping me put it into words. I’m grateful I’m not more selfishly upset about not going… I’m grateful I didn’t let myself get too excited, probably because it wasn’t my trip in the first place and it kind of felt a bit surreal. I’m grateful because I don’t need to leave my husband and cats behind for so long. I’m grateful because I got to go to a relative’s 80th birthday party instead. I’m grateful that the airline tickets to go to that birthday party couldn’t be cancelled, and so I still had them when everything went pear-shaped.
But I’m also grateful because it makes me want to work harder, so I can earn the money to send my mum on that trip. I’m grateful because it makes me think outside the box about how I can achieve that (crowdfunding, asking her friends for help, finally finishing writing my book and selling it for lots of money – okay, wishful thinking that one, but if it means I finish the book sooner, then that’s good, right?).
So yeah it hurts. I should be packing summer clothes right now, ready to spend a month with one of my favourite people in the world… but I’m not and there’s nothing I can do about it. But, as you say, there are things I can do to change how I think about it. Thank you.

David Cain January 25, 2016 at 9:16 am

That’s great to hear. The interesting thing is you may never know which was objectively “better” — this trip going ahead as planned, or the sequence of events that’s happening now. If you do end up working harder and achieving some things as a result, it might be hard to see how the original plan was better. But of course we never truly know — we’re only ever going to experience the one sequence of events that is our lives. But if I can give you a totally biased piece of advice: do anything you can to see New Zealand, it’s amazing!

Zoe January 25, 2016 at 10:17 am

Yes, I agree. Who knows what will happen in the next five weeks? I’ve already taken on an extra freelancing job I’d originally turned down, because I didn’t think I would have time to do it with the trip… and can therefore put the money towards a new trip for my mum. :-)
I’m sure I’ll see New Zealand eventually (hubby wants to go too), but at the moment it’s really important my mum gets to go, no matter what (with or without me). Having a plan to make that happen makes me feel happy already. She’s been talking about it for years.

Anna January 25, 2016 at 4:13 am

When my dad died in December, me and my mum have been finding it helpful to find ways in which we can be grateful for the timing of my dads death, for the ease in which he died, the fact that it wasn’t even earlier than it was, etc… Who knows if he would have died in one of those horrible, painful lingering ways if it had been later…. We just don’t know so I prefer to be grateful. This has been so helpful and I haven’t fallen into ….poor me syndrome. I’m nearly at the point where I can say I’m grateful he died….. I feel guilty writing it and I obviously wouldn’t say it in front of others but there are many things to be grateful for that he died. I like to think he chose his time well for us or some universe was sorting it out like that so my mum has money to do a house up she wanted and so I can understand others around me in the same situation etc…..
Loved your article.
Anna xx

David Cain January 25, 2016 at 9:20 am

Hi Anna. It’s great that you’re able to even explore the idea of gratitude for something that is usually considered a purely bad thing. I know what you mean that there is too much stigma to talk about gratitude *this* radical. But it can be really helpful in the worst times. And of course, we are never obligated to explore gratitude in response to any situation, it’s just a helpful option.

uncephalized January 25, 2016 at 11:25 am

Anna, your post reminded me of my grandfather dying this summer, and how at the time, although I was really sad of course, I was so grateful for the way the family came together around him. He was a very special, kind, funny, gracious man, and all his immediate family was able to be right by his side in the last days. I’m sure it made his passing easier, being at home and surrounded by loved ones. I got to play him songs on my ‘ukulele and he sang along with us on one of his old favorites even though he couldn’t even speak anymore–the power of music. I played it for him again at his memorial. It was an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything. And in sharing grief afterwards, I know my grandmother better now than I ever did before, which is great because she can only have so many years left. I’m grateful for all of it.

Still wish I could have my grandpa back, though.

Holly January 26, 2016 at 12:18 am

This resonates with me because my mother had a stroke and passed away in hospice about 18 months ago. She was 79 and had Alzheimer’s Disease. It terrified her because my grandfather had it and lived to the ripe old age of 90. At the end he didn’t know anyone and had to be confined to a nursing home because he got violent. She was so afraid of what was coming since he had been living with her up until his confinement. She visited him until the end and knew what was in store for her. When she had the stroke and never came out of it, we honored her wishes and took her off of all life support. 2 weeks later she died without ever regaining consciousness. Because she and I had talked of her fears and I held her when she cried, I was grateful that she passed away before having to experience the horrors of a further decline in Alzheimer’s. So, even though some people don’t understand, I’m glad even though I miss her terribly every day.

Davud January 26, 2016 at 7:51 am

Exactly the same for me, though it was December 2013, but at the time Mum and I agreed it was better the way it was than the way it could have been (ie; at least I was there, it was Christmas, otherwise we wouldn’t have all been together at the time).

sandy January 25, 2016 at 4:14 am

This post was exactly what I needed to read today. Thank You David!!!

David Cain January 25, 2016 at 9:20 am

Happy Monday Sandy!

Joe January 25, 2016 at 4:36 am

Your stolen bike led to your writing this article….which led to me reading it…which led to me having a little newer perspective when dealing with my own shit. The ripples really do expand and reverberate forever and I am grateful for that.

David Cain January 25, 2016 at 9:22 am

Right, and who knows how your actions will differ as a result, and how they will affect other lives.

And it goes the other way…. what happened in the past that led to some guy stealing my bike? Maybe it was one of my blog posts, who knows :)

uncephalized January 25, 2016 at 11:17 am

“That guy is such a jerk, writing about being a good person and gratitude and mindfulness, he sounds like he thinks he’s better than everybody so I’ma go steal his bike.”

? LOL. Who knows.

Burak January 26, 2016 at 1:50 am

Like in the story of “The Old Man and the White Horse” :)

Charlie January 25, 2016 at 5:33 am

Great article once again! I look forward to implementing this into my life. Whenever I miss a green light I needed, I tell myself that being stopped at this light kept me out of the accident I would’ve been in had I gotten the green light.

David Cain January 25, 2016 at 9:24 am

Right. I often wonder whether being late (I hate being late) ever saved my life. I’m sure being behind schedule sometimes makes us *earlier* because we miss running over a nail or something like that. In a sense, we know very little about what’s going well and what’s not.

Silvia January 25, 2016 at 7:13 am

David, thank you for this post and for the perspective.
I’m unemployed for 10 months now, and my boyfriend lost his job 3 years ago, just after we moved in together.
Is it hard to be grateful? Yes, but not impossible.
I just wrote a list of 10 reasons why I’m grateful for our lives, just the way they are. I’m realizing these past years have enabled us to do things we wouldn’t otherwise be able to, and that it actually opened doors to us, surprising as it may be. Just sitting and evaluating calmly the situation has made me come to the conclusion that I could — and SHOULD — feel grateful that it happened. Powerful exercise!

David Cain January 25, 2016 at 9:26 am

It’s really worth listening to people’s experiences with this in the talk I linked to (click on “reporting their experience” above). One woman learned what’s to be grateful about chronic pain, another guy learned to be grateful for having to move back in with his parents. We’re really smart, and it doesn’t take much thinking to see what we have that we wouldn’t otherwise, even in tough times.

Aga January 25, 2016 at 8:08 am

i’ve always been annoyed at the godawful “things happen for a reason” crowd, because i don’t think things happen for a reason. i think things simply happen, and it’s up to us to find meaning in the crap that life sometimes throws our way. i find this way of thinking grants us more agency . though you use different wording, your post today speaks of agency as well, and the choices we make in reacting to our circumstances. amen to that! and amen to agency!

Carl Klutzke January 25, 2016 at 9:15 am

I was thinking something very similar. Well said.

David Cain January 25, 2016 at 9:28 am

Yeah I agree. I think when people say “Things happen for a reason” they are mostly saying “You don’t know what good this has created, but you might find out later.” Because after all, we’re only going to know one of the zillion possible threads our lives could take, so there’s really no sensible choice but to make use of what does happen, in any way we can.

Sudhir January 25, 2016 at 8:48 am

I found the article very thought provoking. However, I think that there is another side to it. If something in my life has not worked out the way I wanted it to, it could be because I was careless or, been lazy or, even acted stupidly. In such an event, I think the useful feeling of gratitude would be to realise that I have made a mistake and learn to behave better in future. For example: frequently missing by regular train to work (because of habitually oversleeping) and, finding some thing to be grateful for, on each of those days, may be dysfunctional to my well being and growth.

David Cain January 25, 2016 at 9:31 am

Well I don’t think that you’re going to overlook the possibility of fixing self-defeating behaviors just because you found an upside to missing the train, unless that upside was so great that it makes you want to miss the train. Finding something to be grateful for does not make you any less aware of what makes sense for you to do in the moment.

Dan January 25, 2016 at 9:52 am

You can also look at that bike thief as a “stealth KonMari consultant/expert”…they’re just helping you to declutter your life and in the process taking the weight of decision off your shoulders! :)

But, really, an excellent and thought-provoking essay, and one that keenly demonstrates the power of switching perspective. The particular subject matter immediately brought to mind two of my favorite Zen stories:

“Right and Wrong”

When Bankei held his seclusion-weeks of meditation, pupils from many parts of Japan came to attend. During one of these gatherings a pupil was caught stealing. The matter was reported to Bankei with the request that the culprit be expelled. Bankei ignored the case.

Later the pupil was caught in a similar act, and again Bankei disregarded the matter. This angered the other pupils, who drew up a petition asking for the dismissal of the thief, stating that otherwise they would leave in a body.

When Bankei had read the petition he called everyone before him. “You are wise brothers,” he told them. “You know what is right and what is not right. You may go somewhere else to study if you wish, but this poor brother does not even know right from wrong. Who will teach him if I do not? I am going to keep him here even if all the rest of you leave.”
A torrent of tears cleansed the face of the brother who had stolen. All desire to steal had vanished.
—————-
“The Moon Cannot Be Stolen”

Ryokan, a Zen master, lived the simplest kind of life in a little hut at the foot of a mountain. One evening a thief visited the hut only to discover there was nothing to steal.

Ryokan returned and caught him. “You have come a long way to visit me,” he told the prowler, “and you should not return empty-handed. Please take my clothes as a gift.”

The thief was bewildered. He took the clothes and slunk away.

Ryoken sat naked, watching the moon. “Poor fellow,” he mused, “I wish I could have given him this beautiful moon.”
————
Also, Kahlil Gibran has a lovely piece on the matter (a bit lengthier, but here’s a brief snippet):

“And when one of you falls down he falls for those behind him, a caution against the stumbling stone.

Ay, and he falls for those ahead of him, who though faster and surer of foot, yet removed not the stumbling stone.”

On Crime and Punishment
http://www.katsandogz.com/oncrime.html
—————

Finally, the heart of your essay – on our reflexive and rigid “good/bad” dichotomous thinking and need to realize actual fact “infinite repercussions” – is encapsulated wonderfully in the Parable of the Chinese Farmer (as retold here by Alan Watts):

The Story of the Chinese Farmer
https://youtu.be/OX0OARBqBp0

Carrie Willard January 25, 2016 at 9:59 am

Great article. It reminds me of a practice I used to employ when something “bad” happened to me. I would immediately ask myself, “What’s good about this?” So for instance, I gave birth to a preemie and it was a traumatic pregnancy, birth, months of the NICU, etc. I didn’t emerge from the experience a “better” person. But asking the question of what’s good… well, I’m now in a position to show true empathy to others who have been through something similar. I know what to say, and what not to say. I write about my experience and many people say they appreciate reading my words. I’ve been able to watch a human being who shouldn’t have been born for another 3 entire months, who was born too early to even have nipples or fully formed ears, become a precious toddler. Thanks for the reminder!

Seo January 25, 2016 at 10:05 am

I can definitely relate to this post, I’m glad I read it today. About three years ago I realized the impact of the different choices we make. I had always intellectually understood that the same person at the age of ten can grow up to be very different adults, just depending on their environment. But the actual thought that the me I’m familiar with is starkly different from the thousands of me’s that could have been was actually very comforting. A lot of the things that I resented from my past became formative experiences. It took me two decades, but I finally got what my dad meant when he was talking about “character.” Practicing gratitude is an excellent way to cultivate it.

Jeanne January 25, 2016 at 10:39 am

Great post, David! This was exactly what I needed to hear today, thank you.

Eric Ibey January 25, 2016 at 10:43 am

Hi David,

There is a great message in this article. Thanks for this post.

For me, your ideas remind me of why it’s important to look inward when something bad happens instead of outward. Instead of saying, “Oh man, why did this happen to me, if only so-and-so would have done this differently,” you can react the way you’re suggesting. By changing our tone it helps remind ourselves that WE are in control of our own lives. Reacting with gratitude is a great way to start that process.

Thanks again,
Eric

Rob Thilo January 25, 2016 at 10:43 am

David,

I love Elliot’s tack above, speaking to his longing for your response. Gratitude, gratefulness, thanksgiving can be practiced and become a panacea for our sufferings. I often use “make a gratitude list” for people I see in my therapy practice. I am astounded at the willingness and creativity these folks have demonstrated to me with simply making a list. This is a most powerful “medicine” when put into practice. After all change is the only truth we will ever know. Why not start from the inside? By changing the manner with which perceptions are integrated, choices made, and possibilities realized, we begin to richly experience the world, savor it.

OnBeing, a public radio podcast (OnBeing.org), recently aired a program that stimulated me to take action and “pass it on”. Br. David Steindl-Rast, a 90 year old, Benedictine monk, articulates how relationships form the basis of gratitude and subsequent happiness. He speaks of the infinite, moment to moment opportunities for living life with gratitude. Stop, look, go! Show up, be present, take the risk/action of connection with an Other and start a relationship. The mystery begins. I highly recommend the unedited version.

My life has given me a multitude of experiences and challenges. The possibilities are growing as I age. These iterations show me simple pathways to be of service, becoming, as Gandhi said, “the change I want to see”. I am grateful for all the teachers…connections that greet me. David, thank you for your blog, a weekly touchstone!

Rob

trillie January 25, 2016 at 11:08 am

I wish I had something more profound to say, but I don’t, so I’m just going to thank you. Especially for this bit: “So every event is in a very real sense both good and bad, including illness, breakup, hardship of almost any kind. Almost all of us can see how our failed relationships, for example, made us better in some way, even if they seemed like the end of the world at the time.”

Lucy January 25, 2016 at 6:17 pm

That’s exactly what I wanted to say. I saved the same bit to my “quote of the day” collection. I just can’t get enough out of it.

nrhatch January 25, 2016 at 11:13 am

Your post is spot on! Having a “Maybe Mind” makes so much more sense:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OX0OARBqBp0

Ken January 25, 2016 at 12:18 pm

Kudos on another great article, David.

As a recovering alcoholic, having gratitude and appreciation for everything big and small is paramount for a successful recovery. Why? The happiest and most content people are the ones with the greatest perspective on life’s twist and turns. I think having gratitude is a prerequisite for having a good outlook on life; they go hand in hand.

HappyLater.com January 25, 2016 at 2:46 pm

Pure gold David. I think the idea of accepting things as is encourages one to accept oneself and not only the circumstances one funds himself in. It makes life easier, rather than fighting the moment, the moment itself becomes the container of acceptance. I have been playing with this idea all day and came back tonight to tell you a great thanks. At least today (not sure about tomorrow) it made certain parts of the day less painful for example I accepted the fact that one little chocolate will not kill me and no need to go on a guilt trip about it.

Kim Forman January 25, 2016 at 5:24 pm

This is beautiful. Thank you for taking the time to articulated it and share it.

Lucy January 25, 2016 at 6:22 pm

Thank you Daivd. Somehow you always find ways to express the thoughts so clearly and logically. I enjoyed it very much. I practiced gratitude today when i was cooking dinner for six. I don’t like cooking but now I have to cook for six, every single day since last summer. I thought about what you wrote today while I was cooking and I actually felt joy doing it. And the result was dinner was more delicious and appreciated than usual.

Wow, magic! Thank you!

anon January 25, 2016 at 9:17 pm

having a hard time being grateful for bed bugs.

Zack January 25, 2016 at 10:28 pm

Great post, David. I too have been practicing gratitude of late, but this post will help me to take the attitude and mindset to a whole new level of understanding. Cheers!

TheHappyPhilosopher January 26, 2016 at 1:30 am

Beautiful essay David.

I feel like gratitude is a super power sometimes. It has a way of disarming negative emotions and getting rid of the negativity bias most of us have when facing the world. It gets us to rational thinking so much quicker.

It is tough to practice though when life really beats you down with a death, end of an intense relationship, chronic pain, etc. It’s best to start cultivating gratitude with the little annoyances in life so when the big problems come one will be skilled enough to deal.

Rebecca Ann Smith January 26, 2016 at 4:10 am

Great essay. I’m going to try this x

sujata January 26, 2016 at 6:27 am

Very nice and useful. Thanks!

Lafleurquirire January 26, 2016 at 8:03 am

You are awesome! thank you. I love reading your blog.

Leslie January 26, 2016 at 10:35 am

David, I always enjoy and respect your practical wisdom. I also practice gratitude in my own life. A few years ago my husband lost his job after working in a place that was a really bad fit for him. He was devastated, his self-confidence toppled. I found myself suffused with gratitude: because I get to be with the love of my life after 14 years without him (a great story, but long); because I saw we didn’t need the house we were living in or the stuff in the house; and because I knew I could do better than my dead-end, low paying work from home, and really contribute to helping my family. In this state of heightened awareness and gratitude, I felt completely alive. And in such a state, needless to say, I was able to be a powerful support to my partner. I decided to go for an information interview with a guy who does vocational consulting. (I’d been avoiding calling this guy for months.) We talked, and he said, you’re not really qualified to do this work and I have no job openings. My husband asked how it went, and I said, “He said I’m not qualified and he has no jobs, and I’m super excited for some reason!” The next day the guy called and said, Wow, this is so out of the blue, but a key person here just quit and I think you could learn the job, how soon can you start? The ease and speed of the process felt magical. I believe in the power of very clear intentions (when mind and heart are aligned), and for me the practice of gratitude helps generate that clarity.

Ayi Etim January 27, 2016 at 6:44 am

This post resonates with me. I come from the part of the world where the radicalization of gratitude is a culture. We accept bad times in good faith, then say, it’s okay and conclude that it means better things are coming and it works.

devo January 29, 2016 at 8:32 am

huh?

Comodo January 31, 2016 at 8:22 am

I really enjoyed this experience =) thanks David

Peter February 1, 2016 at 4:26 am

David, this had me in fits of laughter – no real idea why (the best reason of all) save to say when I imagine myself doing it, it is so delicious! Thank you.

cristiana February 3, 2016 at 5:35 pm

This was very good read! I`m so angry at life for not apparent reason that this made my day

Richard Boys February 6, 2016 at 12:35 pm

From here: https://blogs.exeter.ac.uk/stoicismtoday/2016/01/09/stoic-resilience-path-to-tranquillity-by-michael-burton/
‘It’s unfortunate that this happened. No. It’s fortunate that this has happened and I’ve remained unharmed by it-not shattered by the present or frightened of the future. It could have happened to anyone. But not everyone could have remained unharmed by it. Why treat the one as a misfortune rather than the other as fortunate? Can you really call something a misfortune that doesn’t violate human nature? Or do you think something that’s not against nature’s will can violate it? But you know what its will is. Does what’s happened keep you from acting with justice, generosity, self-control, sanity, prudence, honesty, humility, straightforwardness, and all the other qualities that allow a person’s nature to fulfill itself? So remember this principle when something threatens to cause you pain: the thing itself was no misfortune at all; to endure it and prevail is great good fortune.’ (Aurelius, Marcus, and Gregory Hays. Meditations. New York: Modern Library, 2002. 48. Print.). Also, from “The Zen of Happiness”: “Everything that happens to me is the best possible thing that CAN happen to me. This is occurring for my maximum benefit. Ask yourself ‘I wonder what good will come from this?’ Do this for even the smallest events, like bumping your head.”

Kaysa February 7, 2016 at 8:50 am

This was great. Something similar happened recently to us. Someone “stole” our car. Though my husband had left it on the street with the keys in the center console, so I don’t know that stole is the appropriate word.

Since we had bought the car for $1200 and it wasn’t worth anything really, we were however disappointed that it would have been a pain to replace. But they found it a couple of days later with the turning light screwed back into place (it had fallen out and we had it in the car) and while they took our raft for floating the Boise river, which was disappointing. We were grateful to have the car back and the nuisance of finding another beater to replace it removed from our to do list.

The point, we too were pleased that the idea of choosing to drive cheap cars and having the luxury of being able to replace them without much issue is well, a luxury!

MB February 7, 2016 at 12:33 pm

This is the approach championed by Pollyanna in the book of the same name. She called it the “Glad Game.” For instance, when she’s expecting something lovely and is sent crutches by mistake, she manages to be glad that she doesn’t need them. There’s quite a movement to follow the Glad Game. I’m Glad that you’re finding the same approach to be useful and inspiring!

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