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Jim Walker: Attitude, gratitude and other mind games

Don't Take Me Seriously

Posted: October 7, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: October 7, 2011 1:55 a.m.

They say the average adult takes 12 to 20 breaths per minute at rest. That’s more than 6 million to 10 million breaths each year — and, for the most part, we don’t notice or appreciate any of those breaths.

But if something were to hold back your next breath, well, getting it would quickly become the most important thing in your world.

And if someone came to your rescue and enabled you to receive that wayward breath, that someone would be your BFF and you would shower them with gratitude.

When you think about it, breathing pretty much ranks above everything else. It’s a more urgent need than water, food, warmth, love and clean underwear. And, if someone were to ask you, “How you doin’?” — taking continued breathing as a goal, you really should say, “I’m breathing, so ’t’sallgood.”

But the problem is, we forget about breathing. We forget about everything that comes to us easily or continuously. We consider whatever we currently have as the absolute minimum we expect, and we always, always want more. And when we get more, that soon becomes our expected minimum. 

So, unless you are that rare being who can continuously be getting more of everything, the trick to true happiness is to realize how much you already have, be grateful for it — and hoard it with complete paranoia.

Don’t just count your blessings, jealously guard them and keep them under the covers with you at night, stroking them and calling them “my precious.”

On the other hand, you could proclaim your gratefulness to the world. At Starbucks, when you finally receive your tall caramel macchiato, clutch it to your breast and loudly declare, “Mine, mine, all mine!” as you twirl and dance out the door.

When driving, and you get three consecutive intersections with green lights, stop abruptly in the middle of the third intersection, roll down your window and shout your thankfulness to the big green eye.

If someone holds a door open for you, grab them firmly and thank them with a big, wet French kiss.

And, while you are at it, don’t forget to lord things over those less fortunate than you.

In the lunchroom at work, if the guy next to you is eating a stale sandwich, point out to him that you have warm and delicious Crock-Pot stew.

If someone else says they have stew, as well, remind them yours is all organic, and cooked without dependence on fossil fuels.

If the woman across the table from you is eating only vegetables, point out to her that you can eat all the carbs you want and your hips stay the same size.

Remember, it’s that attitude of gratitude that will make you happy.

Of course, even with all this manic appreciation for what you have and receive, the status quo might, sometimes, get you down. That old “I want more” syndrome might sneak in and cause you to be dissatisfied.

The cure for that is a split personality. Let your controlling self take things away from your discontented self — and then give them back later when they will be better-appreciated.

If you are out at lunchtime with $20 in your wallet, instead of buying that huge pizza you covet, deposit that $20 in your savings account. Your hunger over the missed meal will lower your threshold of gratitude and, that evening, when you get home, your leftover macaroni will seem like a true blessing.

Then, the next day, you can take your $20 out of the bank, put it in your wallet, and it will seem like you just got an extra $20. But be sure to use the same teller for both bank transactions because he or she will surely want to be part of your scheme.

Ladies, if you find yourself cursing your hair as too curly or too straight, shave it all off. By the time it grows back you’ll love it for its “personality.”

And boys, if you find yourself wanting a better-looking girlfriend, well, just tell that to the one you have. She will look much better to you after she’s gone.

Remember, it’s not about having what you want, it’s about fooling yourself into thinking you do.

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