Do you want my gratitude journal?

I was invited to an official event today. Before the event, a few of us had a casual chat over a cup of tea; the usual conversation where everyone acts cool but judges the others fiercely, and the entire group smiles almost continuously. Official gatherings are draining because everyone is putting up a show. At this gathering, a discussion began about how children find their passion. One of the guests mentioned how her son found at the age of nine that photography was his passion. I could not stop saying that he is fortunate, as most kids are clueless, even in college, about their passion. Honestly, I was talking about myself. I find my passion every week. When I watch influencers, I feel I can become a content creator. When I watch TVF Pictures, I feel like pursuing entrepreneurship. Even though I never thought of preparing for IAS, TVF aspirants made me feel that I could give it a try. This is how passionate I am about passion - hopping on slippery roads every week!

Of the many passions and trends I tried to pursue, one that makes me cringe now is the art of practising gratitude. The trend picked up during the pandemic - when people were locked down and had ample time to kill. But it is still all over the place. I hear conversations about gratitude journals, clubs, meets, and groups wherever I go. The idea is to promote and inculcate a practice of being thankful for everything. But how do you do it? I was told it begins with buying a gratitude journal. So, I bought one and wrote a page on day one. That's it; it did not work. I thought I had not purchased the right journal - pink, fancy, and expensive. So, I bought it and did not write even a single page.

To begin with, the habit of being thankful is great. But then, for me, it became toxic. It is unreal, unnatural. You have to reject human tendencies, emotions and vulnerabilities. Imagine sitting next to an office colleague who is always happy and excited, has great friends at work, and loves the boss. Imagine going out with a friend who has a great life, and even if she does not, she is super thankful to have a life. Imagine calling your sister to pour your heart out, only to find out that she feels you are negative and must start meditating. The pressure to be positive is the worst kind of pressure I have ever encountered. It seems the world is competing to be happy. Everyone tries to paint a fairytale, and the others feel their lives suck. Social media adds fuel to the fire.

What is human life without a mixed bag of emotions? On the record, for me, adult life is tiring as the to-do lists never end. I began my day by cooking food for a big group. Then, I had a brawl on the road with an Ola driver, followed by a tedious complaint-filing process, an uncomfortable conversation with a colleague, and an embarrassing meeting. But I also had a pizza party with my daughter, an emotional phone call, a warm welcome by an acquaintance, a generous exchange of glances with a stranger, and a beautiful compliment from a student. My day had both high and low moments, embarrassing and wonderful. But it happened naturally, so much so that I was only defending, not even attacking.

The high point of my day was coming across Jacinda Ardern's speech. New Zealand's Prime Minister announced her resignation in the loveliest and most humane way. She mentioned that she does not have "enough left in the tank" and that politicians "are human." It takes courage and kindness to accept one's human side in a position that demands you to put your best foot forward all the time. In an age where some leaders are hell-bent on promoting themselves as superheroes, using entire PR budgets to prove how they never sleep, Jacinda is the hero who talked about being human and decided to step down. I do not understand politics, and there could be other reasons behind her decision. But beyond doubt, her letter is an excellent lesson in communication and retaining the human touch amid the intensified debate on how AI will replace human beings (oh no, I did not use chatGPT to write this piece).

As I close, I hope more and more leaders speak about their vulnerabilities and humane qualities rather than just glorifying their capabilities. Probably, then our generations will be able to shun the toxic positivity. I am done with gratitude journals. If you are still using one, please borrow mine or else I will fill it up with my negativity. Please write to me if you want my gratitude journal or want to lend yours too.

Signing off with a toast to being negative, human, and vulnerable! 🍷

Now published here: https://www.momspresso.com/parenting/684f238cd2794e31b9caebff76477121/article/do-you-want-my-gratitude-journal-vj2s233nk96e

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Ritika

Assistant Professor, Malaviya National Institute of Technology Jaipur. PhD, Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee.