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A brief expression of gratitude
Issue 170: The week to be especially thankful
In the United States, this Thursday is Thanksgiving, a tradition that looks wildly different than how it originated in 1621. I don't think they were watching the Detroit Lions play and eating sweet potato—quite different than that. Many holidays are celebrated with a theme that deviates from the historical context. We can't rewrite history, but we can re-purpose it. I'm reminded of a favorite line of mine in the film Collateral, a 2004 Michael Mann starring Tom Cruise (Vincent) and Jamie Foxx (Max). Go watch this film, unless you haven't seen Heat, then go that and then Collateral. Upon the plan going wrong, Vincent says one of my favorite lines:
Now we gotta make the _best of it, improvise, adapt to the environment, Darwin, shit happens, I Ching , whatever man, we gotta roll with it.
I think of that line a lot when expressing gratitude. Regardless of what Thanksgiving was, it's not a vehicle that has friends gathering with family, friends, and loved ones. Many take time off work to reflect and be thankful for what they have. "We should be expressing gratitude and being around family all the time instead of only Thanksgiving," is a popular response to the holiday event. It's true, but the reality is many people don't, forget about it, and then reminded. Holidays are great reminders if we forget.
Gratitude is a personal point of view
Gratitude is not a binary practice; neither good nor bad. In issue 68, I wrote about Gratitude as a designer. I'll repeat what I said then: Expressing gratitude is a personal endeavor. Nobody can tell you how to be grateful except for yourself. The practice of expressing gratitude is less about acknowledging if situations are good or bad but reframing it into something positive.
As Dr. Lisa Arrango (Millennial Marriage Expert) wrote, “Gratitude is a choice. It is noticing the good and recognizing where the good comes from, usually outside of ourselves. It doesn't mean there is nothing bad or negative going on around us, it means that we are intentionally looking for the good.”
My colleague Scott said on Twitter, "The pessimist always sounds the smartest. But the optimist is the one who wins in the end." When expressing gratitude, I remind myself to reframe the current situation, not accept it. In the same way, controlled fury can be a fuel for your ambition, so can gratitude. It may be the lifeline that keeps you going. Instead of complaining about the design one has, taking a pause and being grateful for even having a design job while so many in the world is a reframing that helps you re-focus. As Chloe Park, "Remember when you wanted what you currently have."
Expressing my gratitude to readers
There are many things I'm grateful for in my life. One is all of you who read Proof of Concept. This corner of the internet helped me be consistent and pushed me throughout the years. Early readers know I used to be inconsistent with publishing. This post marks 166 consecutive weeks of writing and publishing every Sunday. A journey that started with the On Deck Writing fellowship has turned into a group of readers who hold me accountable for my ambitions. Thank you.