Being grateful is often suggested as a good and scientific way to raise some kind of wellbeing measure. Probably somehow resulting from that, and from my much greater enjoyment of being grateful than of investigating this claim at all, sometimes I embark on a concerted effort to be grateful for specific things.

However I am sometimes confused about directing gratitude, in a similar way to how I am confused about considering things ‘problems’. Is there a problem—never spoken of but so much bigger than anything that ever is—of everyone not being able to access vast quantities of wisdom and pleasure by pressing their belly buttons?

Maybe I should be grateful that the horsehead nebula isn’t a real horsehead?

I’m inclined to say that something in the vicinity of the problem thing is a real problem, because ways the world could be better that are not ‘problems’ are probably relatively ignored, what with the popularity of solving problems. But that sentence was somewhat self-undermining, in that upon recognizing a way that the world might be better (we might notice ways the world could be better that don’t correspond to ‘problems’) I declared the absence of the good thing a problem. Maybe that’s what people usually do, so in fact any plausible improvement becomes a ‘problem’?

I have the impression that that there is much more interest in healing diseases than in making normal people even better, physically or mentally. Which seems like evidence for attention going to ‘problems’ disproportionately. But I think it could easily be explained by valuing of equality between people, or just by the general ease of progress via fixing broken things over progress via treading new ground.

I tentatively suppose that a trick with gratitude is to not aim for it to be evenly distributed across a sensically understood space of gratitude deserving entities. Instead focus on whatever actually inspires appreciation. It’s ok to be grateful for the horsehead nebula thing, your phone and gravity and to call it quits. That said, I have no idea, and welcome views from anyone more informed about the proper having of gratitude.

Some things I am grateful for tonight:

  • Other people putting up with lonely, hard, hopeless-seeming times, and trying to look after themselves even when it doesn’t feel worth much.
  • People who take roles where they have to make high stakes decisions in real time, and who are also properly sensible to those stakes.
  • Everyone involved in providing me with toast with raspberry jam and butter
  • The logical structure of possibility
  • Round seals, and whatever inconveniences and deprivations they suffer in gracing the world with round seals.

Round seal