We are all products of our society. It is nearly impossible to avoid. Facebook is a purveyor of unfiltered public opinion of the likes never before seen and whose implications not yet understood for our future.
When I first joined what some of my friends call the “crack”book, I loved being able to reconnect. I embraced all sides of my past-lives: different companies, different fields, extended family, high school, college, all the towns I’ve lived in, all the people I have met and friends I have made along the way my journey of life. Sigh. Over time, and multiple months spanning posts from the contemplative to indulgent to the downright mundane, I would tax my right thumb scrolling through posts and with friends’ babies and dogs, always clicking, commenting and liking
Then I saw the trend. There was “that guy” in the feed. The stereotypes began to stand out in the crowd. You all know him or her. The family member with the slightly cringe-worthy bully pulpit approach to expressing his uninformed politic perspectives; the old friend who always posts provocative and flirtatious selfies; Mr. and Mrs. #firstworldproblems; and most notably in my line of work, the bikini beach yogi quoting the oft-misquoted Rumi, Kabir or Gibran.
It is hard not to find cynicism in pockets of your heart when you have friends exploding over mis-made $9 lattes or the parking spot that was stolen from them. I quickly started feeling bad when I saw their posts. They often times made me bristle. Turning the tables, I started reviewing and reflecting on my own posts and comments, asking myself the following questions:
- Am I being respectful and elevating the dialogue?
- Am I high-jacking a thread and driving my own agenda?
- Am I one-upping someone else’s experience?
- Am I contributing to the angst and misery of society by commiserating with fellow erudites, assholes and scalawags?
What I needed to decide was how can I be my best self on Facebook and feel like my words are positively impacting my friends?
I also felt like this open forum would be a great place to challenge myself to try to be always positive, humorous and joyful instead of complaining about something. I tasked myself to do this each and every single damn day of my life. Thus, I created something called Simple Gratitude. In the culture of love and light, it seems everything published online needs to take on the tenor of massive universal impact. But for me, and typically on Mondays, just stepping out of my pajamas and washing my hair is all the impact I’m making. This task to create a daily habit required two ingredients: simplicity and commitment.
For all of us there are days where everything is going wrong. There is simply no glass half full scenario and yet, in spite of that, I still needed to think about something, one thing, to be my simple gratitude. Some days it was like extracting lint between my toes or having to ponder for lonely, long-drawn out windows of time my place of gratitude.
Then one day it happened: I accidentally became genuinely grateful.
Here are four ways I am now artfully practicing simple gratitude on the annals of Facebook and in my personal life.
- I conscientiously formed a new and healthy habit: I realized that this exercise, at first rote and painful, became a healthy and joyful habit over time. This means not only am I more directed towards embodying gratitude, but I am less inclined to play the victim, martyr or be the first to criticize or complain. This also is a proven experiment that there may be other things in my life that I also have the ability to create new, equally productive behaviors.
- Truly practicing non-attachment: If you follow my posts on Facebook or the woefully neglected Simple Gratitude group page, you will soon know that #simplegratitude is seldom simple. Gratitude at times took a lot of work. Intentionally long-winded one day, hopelessly tragic and borderline absurd the next, with each gratitude, I was forming new muscle in my being: the muscle of accepting things as they are without the will to try and make them different or better.
- I define the reality of my daily existence, not the situations happening around me: My life experience as I am choosing to engage and participate more often than not now are clearly on my terms. Often times, I would write something that at paragraph start read like a bad dream but by the end showed how any situation can be a lesson, a worthy reflection or even a place of empowerment based on my perception of it.
- Gratitude is contagious: you can either be influenced by others or be the influencer. As I was falling down the rabbit hole of rants in my early days of Facebook keeping in tempo with some of my connections (long since removed), I have noticed that my gratitude is inspiring others to focus on the good, or at best better things in life, too. My friends are doing it their own way, on their own terms just like I am. Some are embracing the #simplegratitude movement which makes me smile. There may be one person today that by reading one of my silly or insightful SG’s might have a better day or adopt a different perspective on a situation.
What are you grateful for in your life? Say it, express it, write it down, or shout it out. What the world needs are less cynics and more lovers of their own lives.