Well, this is a bit awkward, but the fact is, friends, I lied to you. In my last post I went on for 400 or so words about the need to switch from depression to anger but not being able to figure out how to do it. Lies, lies, lies. In fact I am plenty angry already and I know all of the reasons why. I tend to speak obliquely and not quite say what I mean or give only partial answers. Lately I’ve been called on it a few times. It’s a bad habit but represents one of my many layers of self-protection, so it is not so easily unraveled.
On the comment board my friend Miss Order sent me to this TED talk, in which a rather charming and funny young man explains that, while we might think that success brings about a positive attitude, in fact a positive outlook brings success. He recommends some positivity exercises, like finding three new things to be grateful for every day (every day?!), journaling about a positive thing that happened so your brain relives it, and several others—meditation, perhaps.
Well, that’s a nice theory, and unlike much advice one finds on the internet, it is actionable. (I read an article this morning that said, instead of trolling job boards, get a friend inside the company to score you an interview. Seriously. That was advice published on HuffPo.) You don’t need a friend with interview-scoring power to write down three points of gratitude.
My issue with the plan is the same problem I have with all such fix-yourself programs. It ignores the structural barriers that actually matter. Maybe you don’t have a job because you’re not positive enough. Or maybe you don’t have a job because there aren’t enough jobs. These are very different problems.
It’s a bit of a religious notion, really. If you have faith and maybe make a few blood sacrifices, the deity of your choice will look after you. And if you come down with a deadly tropical disease anyway, well, your faith obviously wasn’t strong enough.
Not that I’m opposed to gratitude. Nearly everyone has something for which to be grateful. I can think of two or three off the top of my head. But gratitude doesn’t address my anger. It doesn’t mitigate the structural barriers. It doesn’t solve any of my sometimes overwhelming and seemingly unsolvable problems.
Just to play along, I’ll start with one:
I thought it was going to rain all day, but the sun just came out.