The Appreciative Lens

I believe I mentioned that I tend to be a glass is half full type person, more or less, so it is appealing for me to express gratitude, that is, to apply an appreciative lens, whenever possible, to the world around me.

It raises some ethical implications, though. If I am grateful for something, am I claiming to deserve it, or even worse, that others somehow don’t deserve it? (Is it enough for me to say, no, I don’t, no, I wish everyone has something joyful which they are grateful for?) In the face of news such as 85,000 children dying of hunger in Yemen, the rising risk of climate devastation, the (this list is endless), is it deeply wrong to appreciate anything?

Yes and no. There is almost always reason for grief and outrage, every day. Yet there is almost always reason for gratitude and joy, every day. Let me never look away from that which creates sorrow or that which diminishes my fellow human beings, so that I might seek action and words to bring about positive changes. But let me also appreciate that which brings joy. Ethically speaking, it seems inappropriate, wasteful even, not to recognize that which is joyful. And this is where I am perhaps naive, but I imagine that by embracing joy and cultivating gratitude, I might expand the possibility of joy.

I may be wrong. The challenges we face deserve humility, too.

Still, let me celebrate the following:

I am grateful for my family and friends. I am astonished daily by how lucky I am to have these good people in my life. And, of course, for the puppy who took over our lives this year.

I am grateful for moments when I can laugh or even smile. There have been times when that was hard, and I missed it. Yet it is easier right now, and I want to appreciate that for as long as it lasts.

I am grateful for the many people who step forward every day to share their thoughts, voices, and talents with the world. I am grateful at how various private and public systems (and the individuals within them) work well, more often than not, even if the attention is given to what goes wrong rather than what goes right.

I am grateful for this sunny morning, the air crisp, the sky blue, the chance to breathe in and be still in the moment. To let wonder fill me.