We are geniuses at focusing on what is missing from our lives. Our dissatisfaction generally serves us well; it keeps us from complacency and boredom. But we are also dragged down by a pernicious inability ever reliably to stop, take stock and recognise what isn’t imperfect and appalling. In our haste to secure the future, we fail to notice what has not yet failed us, what isn’t actually out of reach: what is already very good. We should be sure to create small occasions when we pause our striving and, for a few moments, properly take on board some of what we have be grateful for – a corrective to all the lessons in cynicism and sourness the world teaches every day.
- Most of the 78 organs in our bodies have performed pretty reliably since the day we were born.
- We don’t need to be afraid of starving – or even of being very cold.
- Every year, if we just stay in one spot, there are at least two weeks of perfect weather.
- We are never too far from a very hot bath.
- We’ve sometimes been surprised by how things turned out.
- We can with complete impunity fantasise about the people we can’t have.
- We’ve come a long way since the early shyness, incompetence and fear.
- Everyone messes up their life quite a bit.
- Of course we couldn’t have known.
- Compared with what we feared in the rockiest patches, this is almost OK.
- We’re still here.
- There were no outright catastrophes today.
- A few times, we really experienced what love felt like.
- A few times, we really felt understood.
- Many of the people we love are still alive.
- There’s always music.
- Without asking anyone, we could go into many shops and buy a treat.
- We could disappear for a bit.
- We’re no longer trapped, like children are.
- We still have quite a lot of time left.
- Children of three or four are, intermittently, reliably sweet.
- There hasn’t been a war here for a while.
- You can turn on the tap and clean water comes out for almost nothing.
- We can leave the places we were born and raised.
- There’s always someone suffering just in the way we are.
- Everyone is weird, we just don’t have access to their inner minds.
- The silent majesty of a clear night sky.
- We’re very normal in the number of idiocies we’ve committed.
- We don’t have to take ourselves seriously.
- We can feel heroic about the ordinary.
- We have managed to learn a few things down the years.
- There are lots of beautiful people we can take pleasure in looking at.
- There are people who have loved us, even though we didn’t totally deserve their affection or devotion.
- A few bits of our body are really rather beautiful.
- Our parents met and managed to make love successfully. And their parents did too. We so nearly didn’t even exist.
- People who didn’t absolutely have to took a serious and benign interest in our education and development.
- Things really do look better when we have slept.
- Many of the world’s most interesting people have written down their thoughts and ideas.
- Other people are usually shyer, sweeter and kinder than we’d anticipated.
- We’ve perhaps found one good friend.
- We can write everything we feel down on paper.
- We can, without too much effort, order a bowl of French fries.
- We once really turned someone else on.
- Others forget the stupid things we’ve done faster than we do.
- Sincere apologies tend to be gladly accepted.
- We can reinvent ourselves – a bit.
- We didn’t turn 18 in 1939.
- Parents keep on loving us even if we largely ignore them for a few years.
- Children continue to love us even if they say they don’t; and even if we were not always
- By the time we are forty, nothing we did or thought at the age of twenty will seem very important.
- No-one can stop us having our own thoughts.
- We can get to hear the jokes and stories of the funniest people on the planet.
- In the middle of the night, and in the early morning, we have the world to ourselves.
- It isn’t what happened to us that counts; but how we choose to tell the story.
- We do not know what will happen in the future.