Already on FaceBook and blogs, the gratitude posts are proliferating like fungus. Mostly, I’m on board with that, because recognizing and valuing the good things in your life is something I blather on about fairly regularly (like here and here). Treasuring what you’ve got is a solid step in the path to a better job, whether it’s in law or outside it.
But—I get really bored with what’s on most of the lists. They’re pretty predictable. Don’t get me wrong, I love my family and friends, and in this economy I’m super grateful to have a house to live in and food on the table. Still, there are only so many times I can read about gratitude for all those things most people are grateful for before I start getting a little, well, snippy.
So here is my eclectic, totally weird and random list of what I’m grateful for this year. It ranges from the ridiculous to the sublime.
1. Asshole partners and toxic law firm environments. Seriously, I am grateful for these things. If my law firm experiences hadn’t been miserable because of the environment, it might have taken me 20+ years to figure out I did not like being a lawyer. Plus toxic law firms now provide me with a steady stream of clients, albeit indirectly.
2. Living in flyover country. On the one hand, people around me truly are nice. They wave you on at a 4-way stop, though it’s their turn. They happily hold the door for you, whether they are female or male. They think having manners and being polite are actually important. I’m so down with all of that. And I’m also grateful for the contradiction that some of these same people vote for candidates and issues that give me the heebies. It makes life rich and interesting.
3. A sucky economy. Because it has made me re-think what I actually could and could not live without. Those $10 impulse buys at Target? Gone. And good riddance, I didn’t need the clutter. But I’ve also figured out what makes me extremely grumpy to give up—not surprisingly, I have a high value for espresso and dark chocolate. Um, yes, “high value” could mean “addiction.”
4. The BBC, Netflix and suggestive selling algorithms. The first two let me watch shows with plots and character development, while the algorithms introduce me to stuff I never would have known about otherwise. Like my current fave, Doc Martin (think Northern Exposure except set in Cornwall with a doc who has Asperger’s).
5. Singing in choir. Even though I read music like a first-grader reads books, and my singing is barely above average, I get to hang out and sing with a bunch of gifted musicians who are also irreverent and hilarious. And I get to be part of some gorgeous, amazing music. Oh, and many of them could be professional chefs, which is fabulous when it’s potluck time.
6. A really screwed up body. Since I was a small child, I’ve had some kind of thing wrong with me more often than not. Lots of chronic and/or fairly serious stuff. This isn’t meant to be a pity party in the slightest—I just got the short end of the genetic draw when it came to health. And I’m not bitter (usually) about that, because if I had had great health plus lots of talent, I would have been insufferably arrogant instead of a general pain in the tookus. I wouldn’t have learned what it’s like to live with limitations and imperfections nearly as soon, and it would have been a much harder lesson later in life. As it is, I treasure the days that I’ve got lots of energy, because I know what it’s like to not have that. Yeah, having energy is better.
7. A personality and background that compels me to question authority. This particular affliction of mine has often made my life incredibly difficult, because I lack the ability to just let things go even when it would be the more expedient or convenient thing. Even though I can logically see that I would make more money/advance in a career faster if I did x or y, I just can’t when it violates my principles. I have tried, with disastrous results. But if you’re going to help people walk through life with more power and authenticity, it’s a useful trait to have.
8. Electric blankets. I used to despise them, but I’ve lost some weight in the last 1.5 years, and now I’m cold all the freaking time. Being able to crawl into a toasty bed is a slice of heaven that I literally give thanks for every night.
9. Push-up bras. Middle age? Kinda sucks. Things start sagging in fairly horrifying ways, and these days I’m doing a great imitation of wearing tube socks with tennis balls in them. Shaping knickers to the rescue!
What’s the most off-the-wall thing you are truly grateful for?
Jennifer Alvey is a recovering lawyer who coaches attorneys on being grateful for the truth of their lives, from the petty to the peaks. Contact her at jalvey AT jenniferalvey.com to share your oddest object of gratitude, or to schedule a free sample coaching session.