Gratitude. How do you feel on reading that word? Chances are it’s one of two ways: either you love it, as you drop off to sleep each night listing what you are grateful for in your mind; or you hate it because it seems to be bloody everywhere and hell, you aren’t grateful for that.  

For me? Well having declared, above, that you probably think of it in one of two ways, I find I am actually somewhere between those points of view. I totally get the thinking behind it. It’s very easy in this, let’s be honest, ‘dismal’ world we find ourselves in, to go to bed only feeling grateful for the fact you will be unconscious for 8 hours. 

What have we got? Well, wars, cost-of-living, the fact it costs £85.43 to make yourself a cup of tea, disinformation, the divisive nature of society, the rise of the far right, the fact that Strictly Come Dancing will soon be back …You get the idea.

All these things are awful but what makes them EVEN WORSE is the fact you cannot get away from them. Social media, online news, TV news, headlines, the person you chat to in the queue at the post office (you’ve still got a post office?…), all want to tell you how bloody awful everything is. 

But is it?


However, there is something you can do to mitigate all this; it’s called ‘gratitude’. Gratitude is everywhere (except the news). There are multiple gurus telling you to write down 5 things each night for which you are grateful so you can drift into a beautiful sleep, dreaming of silver-lined clouds and being fed gold-leafed grapes from the hand of a ripped Adonis in nothing but a gauze loincloth.

There’s even journals dedicated to the process which you can buy (called ‘Gratitude Journals’, funnily enough). Not enough to just write it in a scrappy little notebook you have in your bedside table. No, you need a proper journal! (I have a scrappy notebook – put next to my bed for all the Eureka! moments I have at 3am. It’s been there 5 years. It’s empty.)

To be honest, although I am taking the piss, I’m not actually against all this. What does wind me up is when somebody says ‘there’s plenty of people worse off than you, you know.’ Well, no shit. But what a ridiculous argument. Based on that statement, there would literally be only one person in the entire world who is entitled to moan a bit: The person who really is the worst-off person in the world. 

What annoys me about this ‘nugget of wisdom’ still further is that it takes away any entitlement a person has to feeling a little bit grumpy. Of course, there is someone worse off than you but you can only go by how you feel and if you feel grumpy, pissed off, depressed, whatever, you are entitled to that feeling. It’s part of life. It’s part of the full richness of emotions we have the luxury of having as humans.

We can’t all go round being Polly-fucking-Anna. So, if anyone does actually say that to you, you have my permission to slap them round the face with a with a 3-day old tuna sandwich. When they kick off, just say ‘there’s plenty worse off than you, you know’. This works a treat. You’re welcome. 

Anyway, in order to negate the poison which is the modern world, I decided to try ‘gratitude’. I know I’m late to the party but it’s a party which seems to be going on for some time yet. Here’s what I’ve discovered:

Always have a pen by your bed. You will not be grateful for having to go downstairs to find a pen. This happened to me. I tried to turn it around by writing my first gratitude statement:

  1. I am grateful I have legs to walk up and down the stairs

So far, so good. The next night, first on my list was being grateful I had a working pen next to my bed. I then thought that perhaps I was being a bit too ‘micro’ about this. So, I went bigger: 

  1. I’m grateful for my washing machine, because having to use a mangle would be a real bloody nuisance. 

Two weeks on and I think I have more of a feel for it. I AM feeling more grateful for things around me. As I write this today, I have been grateful for my husband being at home; my morning walk full of birdsong; the sweet peas, gradually unfurling their colourful petals; the dog’s feet, which smell of biscuits. Later on, I might even be grateful for the piece of salmon we will have for tea (though I always overcook it, so I suspect not.)

I think there’s something in it. I have found it a useful exercise though I accept there will always be times when life gets me down. This, to me, is normal. But so long as I don’t have to use a bloody mangle, I think I’ll get through it. 

Gratitude. Try it. You may be grateful for it.