The Like List

No high reaching required

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Over and over again gratitude has been proven to put us in touch with truths that do us a profound amount of good, truths we have a vulnerability for losing sight of. No question, being grateful does us good and brings out the goodness in us. But sometimes it’s a lot to live up to when we have lost so much, are so tired and possibly lonely, are scared out of our minds and are just trying to hang on.
But while gratitude is a lofty sort of undertaking, liking things is not. I found out this morning* you can still like things even when you’re angry. Here is the list of things I liked this morning while angrily exercising (angry that a beautiful rug we’ve only had for 8 months is potentially toxic):
I like…
  • The sound of the rain outside
  • How clean my floors are since I’d mopped after the rug removal
  • The extra-large roominess of my exercise mat and how well it sticks to the floor
  • That my exercise outfit (calling it an outfit is a stretch) happened to match
  • The way my elbow felt, which is to say it didn’t feel any special way at all (which is the way elbows should always behave)
What I noticed after taking inventory of things I liked in those very moments of angriness was how my world got a little bigger and nicer, so check anger off. Ever since I heard Jacqueline Suskin** on a podcast talking about her “Like List” method for feeling a more elemental, down-to-earth level of gratitude, I’ve been testing it out under a variety of emotional states to see how readily available the act of liking is for us when gratitude may not be. My findings: scanning my world for things I liked while in the midst of a sub-optimal mind state delivered on some level every time I remembered to make a list. (The real test, though, will be what this list could accomplish in the face of a real solid bout of anxiety when just remembering to breathe --  let alone look around for things I like while freaking out -- is asking a lot, so I may not be able to gather data on this.)

But beyond the way a Like List can bring us up when we’re feeling low and help get us out of black & white thinking, what I also really like about it is how it wakes us up to the humble but extraordinary content of our life. It wakes us up to the marvel of a pencil. Just think about that wondrous implement! It wakes us up to how comfy this chair is and how sweet it is that a refrigerator hums with happiness, and how much we can like the shape of a coffee mug.

And a Like List can make a sad world bigger. It can help us have a Thanksgiving that is full of things we like even when this day is missing so much else. And just when we need ease the most, listing out the things right in front of us that we actually do like is so very much within our reach. All we have to do is let our eyes roam around.

I hope you like many, many, many things about today and many, many, many things about tomorrow and every day thereafter. Be safe and be well.