I’ve mentioned them before, those three words, “Compare and despair.” It really is self-explanatory, but worth going beneath the surface to contemplate just how damaging and even (clinically) depressing this little human trait can be. I know I can’t be the only one who, at the worst possible times in my life, go a step further and sucker punch any remaining self-esteem by looking at the beautiful lives of everyone around me. Particularly, this seems like the perfect time to mope and scroll… Checking out pictures of the extremely photogenic couple caught candidly laughing at an inside joke while standing in the middle of Times Square, #LiveLaughLove, #LastMinuteVacays #Blessed… followed by the attractive female thanking her #perfectlove for surprising her with a brand new Corvette that she can’t wait to take on a road trip after she gets through her last grueling semester of #MedSchool. #HeeeyDrInTheHouse- And, for the love of God, don’t even get me started on the “just matchy enough to look accidental, but it took 2 weeks and 7 stores to dress the fam for fall” photos. Who the hell has casual access to hay bales and 62 pumpkins? But, do we close Instagram and go do something to lift our spirits? Oh, not yet. We need another hour or so to wallow in the trenches that run exactly parallel to gratitude. And, let me tell you…never the two shall meet. We sit with our unwashed bedhead, examine our absolutely sad life, look down and notice a stain from YESTERDAY’s green juice, and struggle to grasp how everyone, for as far as the eye can see, has achieved balance, harmony, success and true love and apparently, a medical degree, when we haven’t even washed our hair in four days. I’d like to say I’m just guessing that you all do this…but, in my flipping vow to remain authentic #airquotes, I’ll tell you that, even if you haven’t, I’ve done these very things. I will move the clean laundry over to make space on the couch, pause to identify some unpleasant smell, decide it’s a waft of last week’s leftovers as I got the cream out of the fridge for my coffee and (sing-song) Scroollll Awaaay. I can’t stand myself when I succumb to this nonsense. I really, REALLY can’t. At the risk of sounding schizophrenic, I can literally get angry, at ME. For doing something that I CHOSE to DO. Wait. What? Fortunately, there is a threshold. No one can stay in such a place of self loathing forever. So, as I angrily scrub the lemongrass shampoo into my hair, I start to feel a smidge better. That DOES smell good…I AM grateful for hot water. And, just like that, my day truly starts to turn around. It is impossible to compare yourself to others when you’re in gratitude. Even if it has to start with the smell of your shampoo, being grateful for the next thing is just a little bit easier than it was when you were looking at Miss Dr. and her new corvette. Lots of people keep a gratitude journal. I have one in my meditation nook, but I don’t regularly write in it. I’ve found that to sit and slowly and deliberately allow the amazing gifts in my life to come to mind puts me into a deeper state of gratitude than does making a list. When the delicious thought of living by the sea enters and rests in my mind, I can sit and marinate in the peace it brings until I slowly release it and feel thankful that I am able to drive a car, that I HAVE a car, that I am not hungry, that there is clean water at the turn of a knob, that I open my closet and there are clothes, that I open my fridge and there is food, that I login in to my bank account and there is enough. When I can do this long enough, I start to feel such abundance that the gratitude rolls right down my cheeks. And, I can see my self pity for exactly what it is…an absence of gratitude, and a result of comparing my life to the two dimensional images I’ve chosen to believe accurately represent the lives of people to which I was inferior only an hour ago. It’s my goal not to ever become preachy about a thing…but, gratitude, that one’s gonna come up a lot. The next time you can’t put your finger on why you instantly didn’t like a person you just met, I’m willing to bet there was a lack of gratitude in that individual’s life. It just comes through. And, it comes through as a grandiose sense of self, big I and little you, someone with all the answers, one uppers…all these poor jackasses need Jesus and gratitude. Gratitude makes us gentler humans…gentler with ourselves and with each other. It keeps us in our lane. It diminishes jealousy and promotes the ability to cheer others on to their goals, because we are not threatened by the achievements of another. We’re happy. And, we want that for those around us. All because of active gratitude. It is the elixir of boosting the crappiest moods and the repellant of the nastiest mental funks. Being grateful daily doesn’t make our problems disappear. It makes our gifts APPEAR, and remain accessible when we slip into the temptation to envy the girl donning the latest $2,000 Louis Vuitton satchel, posing on 5th Ave with her besties, who never worked a day in her life because daddy owns the northern hemisphere. #HanginWithMyBitches Hold up…you put your feet on the floor this morning and performed all of your activities of daily living without assistance. Do you think anyone envies that? So, shut up about the LV satchel. As you drive across town today, or wherever you find yourself, make it a point to be grateful for five things you witness. It puts you on the look out for people and things that are just gonna make you feel happy to be alive. If you can’t find anything, start with your eyes that are roving the landscape. Then, look down at your empty hands, bring them together, place them over your heart and simply say, “Thank you.” If none of this works, the couple will still be there in Times Square, sharing their magazine worthy candid photos of their weekend in NYC and the Dr. with the Corvette is still over-posting about her flawless relationship. But, my guess is, their Instagram posts would change drastically if they found those five things that made them feel grateful. When I can see it from this side of the funk, I’m pretty grateful I don’t have to post pics of a seemingly perfect life because I have failed to realize just how perfect it is, already. Peace, Warriors.