It’s all about how you look at things.

I’ve been reading and thinking about how people work through hard events and emotional trials lately. This past year has dealt me quite a hand as I’ve experienced the physical loss of both grandparents and one cousin along with a few different close friends being diagnosed with cancer. I’ve realized recently how easy it is to become consumed with the events in our own lives and how likely we are to get dragged down. But I’ve realized that we’ve become conditioned to think like this.

Ever since we evolved into more complex creatures our survival was invested in the function of our reptilian brains. Nestled at the deepest level of our neurological landscape this area of our brain’s circuitry helped us identify problems that threatened our survival. Flight-or-flight responses, aggression, mating behavior, and the functions of our vital organs are constantly receiving these urgent messages from deep in this area of our minds. As such, we’re constantly looking for problems to fix and things that we want to change as dictated by this shadowy presence. It’s like the Wizard of Oz; a small guy hiding behind a curtain projecting huge images of himself to direct the show with unlimited authority. Because of our conditioning to constantly realize what’s wrong so we can fix it, it’s often easy to forget what’s right.

When we compound every observation of the things around us that need changing, it’s easy to get overwhelmed, depressed, and discouraged. Outside of our basic instincts, we’re exposed to media everyday that encourages us to compare ourselves to others via the things we buy and the things we do. Researches like Dr. Gwenn O’Keeffe, have caught on to this by studying the skewed view that social media imparts on teens, and how it implies to them that everyone is living an incredible life that makes theirs pale in comparison. How many times have you logged on Facebook and seen photos from parties or status updates of your friends’ antics and heaved a heavy sigh? Is it possible that a side effect of our constant connectedness is the loss of touch with the positive things in our own lives?

So in the spirit of gratitude and happiness I’ve created a way to personal recognize and remember all of the small things that I’m grateful for and that make me happy. The Chinese philosopher Lao-tzu is famously quoted as saying, “Thejourney of a thousand milesbegins with a single step”. In the spirit of modern day technology I’m going to start a single tweet to realize and record small moments of happiness so that I have the ability to go back and look at life’s little victories when things look more bleak. I’ve started the new Twitter handle @ThankSmall (as a nod to Bill Bernbach’s legendary ad) and invite anyone to follow me and share the small things in life that they’re thankful for.

How does that sound?