I bumped into someone on the elevator at work last week who I hadn't seen in some time. "How are things?" he asked me. "Oh, pretty good," I replied. "No complaints." "Oh, surely if you thought about it long enough you'd be able to come up with some," he said.
I got off the elevator then so my response was just a "oh, you're probably right" over my shoulder and a wave, but I kept thinking about that exchange. Because, really, why should I come up with some complaints? Shouldn't I be grateful that I am at a place in my life where my first response to the "how are you?" question is a genuine "wonderful"??? Yeah, sure, his point is valid ... there is no shortage of little irritants in my life that I could bitch about (and I do, on a regular basis, on this very blog). But I really like being in a place where those are secondary, where in all things that matter life is good.
I started keeping a gratitude journal a few years ago. I don't do it every day, and I don't do it as often as I used to, but the idea was to just end every day by writing down three things I was grateful for that day. Some days it was really hard to come up with three meaningful ones. Other days it was hard to pick just three. But I found over time that it really did, corny as it sounds, change my outlook on life. I have really been trying in the last couple of years to focus on my blessings, and to be grateful for them. It is so easy to get caught up in endless rounds of bemoaning what we don't have, what we want, what we think we have been denied. We always want more than what we have, that's just human nature. Taking time at the end of each day to remind myself of all I have to be grateful for instead of focusing on what I was lacking really helped me to be more at peace with myself and be in a more positive state of mind in general.
This weekend is a time when traditionally we are supposed to give thanks for our blessings. And I have so many, it overwhelms me with gratitude sometimes. My beautiful, beloved family and the love and support they have always shown me. My dear friends who surround me with laughter and music and all things good and fun every day. The fact that I work at a job I love, where every day I feel useful and challenged and supported, and where I get to do something I really enjoy with people I really like. I have a roof over my head, clothes on my back, and food in my stomach. I have never truly known want or hunger. I have access to clean drinking water. I live in a country where I can vote for my representatives, practice my religion openly, and walk the streets freely and without fear. So many of those things, particularly the later ones on the list, I too often take for granted and forget that the vast majority of the world's population can not say the same.
And this year I have a new blessing to add to my list. If you had told me last Thanksgiving, or even last Christmas, that by this Thanksgiving I would be living with a partner, someone who every day I became more sure I was going to spend the rest of my life with him, I would have thought you were crazy. But yet here he is, and the love and support and humour and so many other things he shares with me every day are among my greatest blessings.
The answer to the question "how are you?" is clear. My answer is, and always should be, "Blessed." Or, perhaps, "Grateful." For I am both.