It’s wonderful to have a holiday like Thanksgiving devoted to gratitude. Taking the time to feel grateful might help us shift a negative outlook by forcing us to contemplate the good things in life. Seligman would have us keep regular gratitude journals to improve our sense of well-being. My own partner and I always try to talk about three things we are grateful for each day. But I am generally terrible at this, so I need help.
Luckily, I heard a “Giving Thanks” show on NPR featuring actress Julia Sweeney, who created the androgynous character Pat on Saturday Night Live. She talked about some of the things she was grateful for. My favorite offering by Sweeney was that she was thankful for the margin for error that her life allowed her. I can relate to that. I am truly grateful that I have been able to make mistakes in my own life and have still been able to flourish. So many folks in the Global South live on the knife’s edge, where mistakes are impossible to recover from. Another great point Sweeney made was that she was grateful for a stable community. Consider all the folks who live in war zones from Afghanistan to Somalia. Even here in Oakland, many folks must feel they are in a war zone with all the murders going on.
Now let me get back to futurism. It may be that we need to develop meaningful happiness by cultivating gratitude in order to update our negative filters and recognize the path toward a future with better outcomes, to regain the optimism America had back in the 60s, but lacks now. So let’s all recognize what we have to be grateful for. Our future may depend on it.