Thankfulness/Gratitude–and a More Optimistic “…Way to Think About What’s Going On” in America

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This is the time for giving thanks, right? But why only now? My morning virtually guided meditation tells me that expressing gratitude is a very healthy habit of mind for us—all the time—and we can learn to be more grateful.

Numerous studies have shown that developing this gratitude “habit” can lead to improvements in our physical and mental health, heightened self-esteem, new friendships, and even a greater ability to overcome trauma. (See Forbes: “7 Scientifically Proven Benefits Of Gratitude That Will Motivate You To Give Thanks Year-Round.”

Surrounded as we are with so much turmoil, I took to heart my meditation teacher’s lessons. She should know something about gratitude: Sebene Selassie describes herself as a three-time cancer survivor. In the opening of the ten-minute meditation, she expresses gratitude that she’s still here.

So I begin with health: the gratitude I feel that my new knee is working well, with very little discomfort. (I may have to milk that surgery for one more post, but then we’ll all be done with it!)

I feel gratitude for several cherished bloggers who share their struggles with major illnesses and constant pain. They teach me a great deal about the expansive strength of the human spirit when tested as never before, the need for compassion and constancy in listening and trying to react in helpful ways (and avoid thoughtless responses), and the inspiring capacity to truly live one day at a time—and to treasure time in a way that is both unique to each of them and a unifying quality so worthy of emulation.

I feel tremendous gratitude for my family, especially my husband of many years, who put up with A LOT over my months of recuperation—for the most part without complaining.

Of course: gratitude that we’ve survived Covid, while taking time to acknowledge its terrible toll on so many individuals and families worldwide.

Though I’ll miss seeing our daughters this weekend, we will be with my spouse’s delightful family—not one of whom will say anything politically crass or conspiratorial. We’re all on the same team—and I’m very grateful for that.

What’s more, we’ll be introduced to the first member of the next generation. The weekend will end with a birthday party for this one-year-old whose acquaintance we haven’t yet made because of Covid, etc.

AND, my dog-deprived self will get to spend time with the one-year-old’s furry BFF. I’ve written this shaggy story before: I’d dognap him in a minute and shamelessly face the consequences if I could.

On a different note, I’m grateful that I’m learning to disengage from the political furor on occasion—while continuing to work to make the changes I feel our democracy cries out for.

As I remain deeply involved, though, I’ll express my gratitude for the unjustly maligned President Joe Biden and his unjustly maligned Vice President, Kamala Harris. I share their vision of an America that’s more equitable in every way—with fewer and fewer people “on the margins.”

The fact that child poverty has been dramatically reduced in just the year they’ve been in office is deeply gratifying.

And, as we near Thanksgiving, also gratifying are their attempts to improve life for the first Americans: the Indigenous people whose lands and resources were stolen, often destroyed. The fact that the Tribal Nations feature in real legislation is an important start in redressing the dreadful harms they’ve suffered.

Similarly, I’m gratified that America is now reckoning with the manifestations of our slavery-imbued founding. The psychological, physical, economic, and environmental pain that is continually inflicted on Black people is clear, I believe, to anyone who places herself in another’s shoes.

And I’m grateful that this administration truly seems dedicated to lifting up all members of the forgotten middle class, who have suffered through the worsening economic inequality in our wealthy nation over decades.

This is surely a dangerous time for our nation, but I’m gratified by all the good people who are dedicated to making our nation a more perfect union.

And I’m gratified that among all the naysayers who think our country is on an inevitable downward spiral toward autocracy (a concern I don’t dismiss), there are those like Andrew Tobias, who writes a great deal about investments and financial planning.

I’d never thought of Tobias as a zealous Democrat (perhaps he wasn’t always; many thoughtful people have become aware how important Democratic victories are in this environment.)

As even the “mainstream media” have been painting such selectively dire word pictures of life in America today, I was pleased to read Tobias’s November 17, 2021, essay telling us all what we have to be grateful about now.

I’m reprinting it below, with my emphases in several places.

The Right Way To Think About What’s Going On
By Andrew Tobias

“Enough with the gloom and doom!

The stock market is at record highs.  Unemployment is near record lows.  Anyone who wants a job can get one.  Wages are rising.

Taxes are about to go up on the wealthy — whose talent, hard work, good luck, and inheritance we should celebrate — to help pay for massive, long overdue investments to revitalize our infrastructure, including the electric grid and more-widely-available broadband, and to lower health care costs and the cost of raising kids.

And to confront the climate crisis.

And to get the economic pendulum, so long swinging toward the uber-wealthy, swinging back somewhat.

These are fantastic things.

We’ve ended our endless war in Afghanistan and evacuated 124,000 of those most at risk.

We’ve rejoined the Paris Accord and the community of nations, reestablished the dignity of the Presidency, reimposed ethical norms, restored the independence of the Justice Department, cut child poverty in half, vaccinated the majority of the country.

We’ve staved off autocracy, at least for now.

All sorts of terrible things are possible down the road — but it’s also possible the surprise will be on the upside.  Especially if we keep our heads down and keep at it.

After a time, fuel and food prices could fall.  Supply chain problems…could ameliorate (with help from the Administration wherever requested).

After a time, the truth about January 6 could come out — Liz Cheney and Adam Schiff are pretty tough cookies.

The disgraced former president might not run for reelection — or face a damaging primary if he does.  (See: Could Chris Christie and Liz Cheney Take Trump Down?)

The mid-terms will be tough — but so was winning two Senate seats in Georgia.  And we did.  Will 88-year-old Chuck Grassley really be unbeatable in Iowa?  I don’t think so.  Could former Chief Justice Cheri Beasley flip North Carolina’s open Senate seat from red to blue? 

Absolutely.  She lost her last statewide race by just 400 votes.  Could Val Demings win in Florida?  She is awesome.  Could we pick up Senate seats in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin?  And hold the blue seats we need to hold?  You bet. 

We just have to get our butts in gear, fund massive organizing — now, early, while the organizing snowball has time to grow huge (thank you, as always) — and spread a positive message wherever we go, inspiring people to join us.

If they like weekends, remind them that it was unions that gave us weekends; the anti-union party that opposed them.  If they like Medicare, remind them it was Democrats who delivered it; Ronald Reagan’s team that famously opposed it.

Social Security?  Democrats delivered that. The Assault Weapons Ban?  Democrats delivered it; Republicans refused to renew.  The Violence Against Women Act?  Same. 

A woman’s right to keep the government out of her most personal decisions?  Democrats want abortion to be safe, legal, and rare. The other party is the party of back-alley abortions for women who can’t afford to travel.

If they have LGBT friends, relatives or co-workers, remind them it was Democrats who’ve so dramatically improved our lives; Republicans who fought us every step of the way.

The Family And Medical Leave Act?  Democrats.  DARPA and the Internet?  Democrats.  Massive job growth?  Democrats.  Comprehensive immigration reform?  Democrats (68 to 32 in the Senate, only to be denied a vote — that would have passed — in the Republican-controlled House).

But wait!

The Interstate Highway System?  The Environmental Protection Agency?  The Earned Income Tax Credit?


But of the moderate variety, who are now, basically, Democrats.  Or Independents.

They believe in integrity, civility, compromise, balanced budgets (Clinton was the last President to achieve one; Obama got the Debt shrinking relative to the economy as a whole, which is nearly as good) . . . and the peaceful transfer of power.

The point is: Democrats have so much to run on. With more to come.
In ordinary times, the party in power gets killed in the mid-terms.  These are not ordinary times. 

Let’s emphasize the positive and get to work.”

So hooray for gratitude—and seeing things in a more positive light. I am taking Tobias’s closing sentence to heart. Are you with me?

Have a lovely weekend, everyone.


21 thoughts on “Thankfulness/Gratitude–and a More Optimistic “…Way to Think About What’s Going On” in America

  1. Thanks, Annie, and Happy Thanksgiving! Believe it or not, Andy Tobias and I were actually classmates for about a year and a half at the Horace Mann School, lots of years ago. Our mothers were old, good friends. Andy and I reconnected again at an annual event called Renaissance Weekend, beginning 20 or 25 years ago (we’re going back again this year–might see him!). Hope you’re well and stay that way!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Hi, George. Happy Thanksgiving to you, too. That’s a fine “small world” story! As I knew nothing about your friend Andy Tobias’s writings apart from his investing and financial planning books, I was pleasantly surprised by the fervor of his piece.

      If you see him, I hope you’ll tell him that it resonated with plenty of us.

      Take good care. Very glad to hear you’re up to traveling.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. That’s a great list Annie. I have nothing to complain about in my personal life. I’m extremely fortunate in the grand scheme of things. Elsewhere, I’m reading this post shortly after learning of the verdict in the Arbery case. Whew! I’m definitely grateful for that.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Annie, great post. You do have to read beneath the headlines which often speak of conflict and fail to report on all the good things going on. The people who get along don’t make headlines or the news. It is only the ones who don’t who do get in the paper. I am tired of giving attention to politically elected leaders who are out to divide America with their BS. We should just flat out ignore politicians who are blowing smoke up our rear ends to get attention – folks like Gosar, Gohmert, Breitbart, Cawthorn, Taylor Greene, Gaetz, Trump, et al – should be ignored until they have something reasonable to say. And, a couple of those folks may be guilty of treason relating to January 6 and are still babbling about bogus claims of a stolen election. Keith

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Keith, many thanks. I agree that we would all do well if there were less coverage of Gosar, Boebert, and others of their ilk. I don’t think they should be in Congress because they violate their oaths of office regularly—and I don’t think any of them is capable of saying anything that reasonable people would consider reasonable. Perhaps they’ll have to “pay the piper” when the Jan 6 committee issues its findings—and/or the DOJ acts after investigating.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Annie, if people talked the way these elected officials do in front of regular people, the listeners would either leave the scene or say I would appreciate it if you did not talk that way. It is not surprising the last former president had one of the highest turnover rates among staff than any other president, as working for him would be like holding mercury in your hands while walking on egg shells, to mix to apt metaphors. As an independent and former Republican (and Democrat) voter, I believe the former president is guilty of sedition, with his lies, bogus claims and promotion of violence to remedy his bogus claims. And, what is interesting is how several of the insurrectionists got tours of the capiitol building days before they invaded it. How did they get there?


        Liked by 2 people

  4. Just read your blog. So wonderful! Just sent it to my kids. You got my thanksgiving day off to a great start and it’s only 6:45am. And I m truly grateful for that. ❤️🌈

    Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 3 people

  5. I agree, Keith. I think it’s clear the former guy is guilty of sedition. And if he isn’t justly sentenced to prison, at the very least he should be barred from office and required to pay huge fines—including for all the unnecessary Covid deaths.
    I really appreciate your thoughts as an Independent. Your slice of the electorate is crucial for the continuation of our democracy.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Thanks for this “accent the positive” post, Annie. I’ll do my best to follow your example, especially during the holiday season. And I fervently hope the Democrats attract votes by stressing their accomplishments.

    Liked by 1 person

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