To be clear, gratitude is serious business. Last year, no less a personage than Vivek Murthy, the Surgeon General of the United States, stressed the importance of a regular gratitude practice as part of a healthy life. Don't let the seeming ubiquity of gratitude articles in pop culture -- to which I am contributing, obviously -- fool you: you truly will be well served by taking gratitude to heart.
Heart is the key word. The objects for our gratitude to rest on are everywhere. One must, however, notice them, and then really feel your appreciation. Like all positive psychology strategies, if your actions are not heartfelt, they don't do you much good.
Gratitude expert (what a great job!) Robert Emmons says gratitude has two components: an affirmation of good in the world and an understanding that the good lies outside ourselves, that we can't necessarily take credit for it. Duly noted. Still, I see no reason not to have a little fun with gratitude at the same time -- which is where the letter P comes in.
P, I have noticed, has quite the plethora of goodness, only some of which I can occasionally take any credit for. For example, pillows. I love pillows. What a perfect physical manifestation of goodness! Sometimes I have bought pillows, or been gifted pillows, or paid for a night in a motel room with incredibly satisfying pillows -- but essentially their goodness comes from outside of me. I didn't make any of these pillows. Nor did I grow, harvest, manufacture or process any of their component parts. Other people, and nature itself, did all this work. I am grateful.
What other goodness does the letter P offer us? Here's a partial list:
- Purple. Dark purple, light purple, eggplants and velvet. Purple, purple, purple.
- Pink, too. Once I read a Washington Post columnist's assertion that pink was not a grown up color. Really? A color? I say, embrace pink!
- Paint! While we're on the subject, paints and painters, all kinds!
- Pools, ponds, patios and parties.
- Pelicans, and the time to watch pelicans nose-diving into the ocean.
- Pizza. I am all too grateful for pizza.
- Popcorn, pasta, potato salad, peas, pesto, pancakes, pepper. I can muster up a lot of gratitude where my stomach is considered.
- Persistence, positivity, playfulness, power, patience, peculiarity, puckiness! Yay that we have all this within our own beings.
- Prayer. Whatever that means to you, it's something to be grateful for.
- Peonies, petunias, pansies, poppies.
- Penguins, pandas, parrots, puppies, and porcupines (most of the time).
- Pajamas. Even better if the pajamas have polka dots!
- Petticoats. I mean, even the word! "Petticoats" -- you have to smile.
- Purring. Speaking of smiling.
- Presence and presents.
- Pope Francis. I haven't always been grateful for popes, but this one is the most powerful champion alive for our ...
- ... Planet. There are no words for this one. You all know what I mean.
- Finally, peace. Aspiring for the big peace, cultivating peacefulness within. Maybe the very best P word of all.
Of course, P does not have a monopoly on goodness. I am a writer, I am fond of the entire alphabet. Also, there are some P words that may seem unpleasant at first blush -- like puking. But my wise husband pointed out, there are certainly times when we are grateful for puking, ugly though both the word and experience may be. Hmmmm ... I'll have to remember that next time.
In the meantime, my husband and I also came up with a fun new gratitude game, one you all can play along with: can you name something for which you are truly grateful for every letter of the alphabet? If you do this, let me know. I'd love to see what you all come up with!
I have to say, I'll even be grateful.