Brain Food #678

Being thankful

Thoughts of the day

The cynic within me would often dismiss gratitude as a public illusion, a trick to get the masses to be happy with what they have, so they do not go after the precious belongings of others.

As Laura Kipnis wrote in Against Love, “Wanting more is a step on the way to a political idea, or so say political theorists, and ideas can have a way of turning themselves into demands.”

Yet, being thankful is a practice that science has proven can change not only our mindset, but can also rewire our brains to be happier.

Practicing gratitude is about realising what you take for granted, and forces you to look harder to appreciate what you have. It becomes an act of noticing. As you try to find more things to list, you begin to realise that the obvious things may not be so obvious after all. And to notice, we might have to move slower.

You can think about what you ‘get’ to do every day, instead of what you ‘have’ to do.

You can think about what you have today (as an active verb, for example, ‘I have a family’), but also as a verb that links your past to your present (for example, ‘I have loved’).

That is not to say, of course, that we should not be acting on our wants, which are inevitably linked to our haves. Perhaps that is why Thanksgiving is followed by Black Friday.

But, with a few thanks for what we have today, our ambitions can become reasons for excitement, not frustrations. And identifying what we are thankful for can, in a way, help highlight which wants we should truly pursue.

Photography is a practice that gently requires us to see, not just look.

There may be nothing more beautiful than the ugliness, or mundanity, of everyday life.

Thank you for reading today’s Brain Food. Brain Food is a short daily newsletter that aims to make you think every day, without taking up too much of your time. If you know someone who would like it, why not forward it to them? Brain Food is, after all, alive thanks to you, its readers.

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