The origins of #GratefulWed

I was sick a fair amount as a kid — I always had a bug. And I remember one day thinking, “Man, I will be so happy when this is gone.” And I held myself to that — I realized about two weeks later, when I was no longer congested or sneezing and generally felt normal again, that this was the day I swore I’d be happy about. And I really enjoyed that day.

That’s kind of what spawned the hashtag #GratefulWed. The dumb pun came to me last month when I was thinking about all the negativity I see every day — people don’t like this, people are angry about that, people are upset about the other thing. Sometimes those things they’re complaining about are understandable; other times they’re so petty they’re silly. And it’s really easy to use Twitter as a catharsis for that negativity — you let off steam 140 characters at a time and hopefully a little sympathy flows back your way. I get it.

But at the same time, that does tend to make the average Twitter feed a long list of bitches and complaints. I have plenty of my own little annoyances every day — I’ve got too much to do, I’ve got a headache, that guy driving in front of me is an idiot — but over time I’ve started to feel that we rarely call attention to the little things that go right. Everybody is hyper-aware about the little bad things, but waking up feeling rested or having a smooth commute doesn’t even register. I try to be aware of the happiness that exists in the absence of adversity.

So, in the middle of every week, I post on Twitter with at least one #GratefulWed message with something simple that has gone right for me lately. It can be anything. I got to spend time with my wife this weekend. I am enjoying playing a new game or hearing an old album. I had an enjoyable lunch today. I have enough money to get lunch today. I can walk under my own power to get lunch today. It’s not bragging; it’s just awareness. You can step back as far as you need to, from “that cold sore has gone away” to “my car has not needed service for a while” to “awesome, both my eyes still work” — but sooner or later you’re going to find something you appreciate.

Because it asks people to change the way they think, #GratefulWed takes a little effort. But I’m grateful that it doesn’t take too much.