Cultivating Gratitude and Joy in a Sea of Confusion

cultivating gratitude and joy

Welcome to my blog on cultivating gratitude and joy when you are feeling lost and confused. It follows a biographical account of a hungover morning that went spectacularly differently to what you might expect. Sometimes life teaches you amazing things in ways you really can’t predict.

Waking Moments

I wake up with a clouded head and a pulsing heart. I’m not exactly a sweaty mess, but there is a clammy disturbance across my body. A general sense of confusion accompanies my dry mouth.

Sunbeams are shining through the window catching the specks of dust that silently drift around. I bask in the moment of half-asleep daydreaming. I’m aware that I am a human lying in bed that has things to do, yet I am also content to exist as just a conscious entity that thinks about stuff and doesn’t do anything. A lost being floating around in the ether of its own internal dimensions.

My mind churns with the recent events and floods of emotions over the recent weeks:

  • From losing all will to continue on my latest mission, to finding sources of inspiration and joy in what I’m working on.
  • Nearly passing out from dehydration in 40C heat at the end of a 120km cycle that turned into a mild disaster
  • Wondering if I’ll ever fall in love again. Pretty much falling in love with everyone
  • Spending 4 hours with my neighbour with terminal cancer I may never see again. Hearing his amazing stories and becoming humbled by his clear sense of what’s important from his unique, yet sad perspective.
  • Catching up with friends who know me, taking joy in what they are achieving, delighting in the stories I have to tell them. Worrying about the problems some of them have with mental health. Worrying about my friends caught in issues in Hong Kong, Worrying about our own issues with Brexit and the just general world seemingly going mental.
  • Making new friends and joining them on their journey. Sparking ideas for projects to make a better world. Taking energy and inspiration to just be a kinder and more useful human.
  • Being given a taste of just how good my life could be here, the fun I could be having and the opportunities that are so abundant. Yet I am being sent back to my problems and challenges. After the comfort of having people around me that are so supportive a harsh reminder that ultimately I am alone on this world

I manage to achieve positive thoughts somehow in my quiet moments of daydreaming. Before the reality of the day hits, I decide to go for a run to clear my head.

Run to Reframe

My genius plan of leaping out of bed embodies itself in a much less impressive reality of blearily bumbling around for 30 minutes. I eventually find myself running by the canal in the shining sun and cool air. My feet pounding along as my brain unwinds with pleasant bemusement at the rest of the world, the people around me and I why I take anything seriously.

running to reframe your problems

Science of Hungover Exercise

A more perfect hangover remedy does not exist. I pity every human that tries to eat or medicate their way out of a hangover situation. Simple exercise and calorie (alcohol) burning is required. When combined with beautiful weather and nature it all becomes quite a profound experience.

You get the relief of the toxins being removed from your body. This happens around the same time as you get the endorphins release of the exercise high. So your sense of state jumps up two huge levels in one go and life gets pretty awesome.

Your pitiful state of being incapable of dealing with your basic human requirements metamorphs into feeling like you can take on the world. Like a shit caterpillar turning into a beautiful butterfly, a positive you is born into the world. All your ideas make sense, your setbacks are just a part of the journey and your success is inevitable.

Reframing Problems as Opportunities

My sadness and regret at leaving are just a challenge to deal with.

  • Yes, I’ll miss the chance to speak at some cool events, the first I’ve been offered. Something I have been working towards for a long time. But I can remember how long it took to get my first podcast guest. Yet now I am turning away several a week. This might be the first opportunity that has ever arisen and seem so important. Really it is just the first in an infinite pool of offers if I keep on working.
  • Yes, I won’t have the lifestyle, food, exercise options or abundance of fun things to do. But I will better understand the actual reality of the world. What different people and cultures have, instead of just existing in the bubble of my own reality.
  • Yes, I will miss working with a group of brilliant beings on ideas I’m passionate about. I will instead be working at a slower pace in a country where I struggle to get people to even understand what I’m saying. There will be no chance to talk about my ambitious ideas. But this is an opportunity in itself to improve my ability to talk with clarity. To work on picking myself up when things don’t go how I want. To be a source of joy to those around me even when life isn’t giving me what I want. To be an actual stoic, instead of a hypothetical one.

I get back from my run feeling grateful for the fact I had a half-decent sleep and time for a run before my day of travelling. Chuffed I’ll still be able to do something with my time. A near miss from a ruined day or wanting to work or create but not being able to think. Then trying to sleep and not being able to on transport. Just a useless existing bag of uselessness for a day stuck in limbo.

I shower and quickly pack. My possessions fit nicely into one neat small backpack. It feels like I might be a human that actually knows what it’s doing. I leave the house safe in the knowledge that I’m in control. I’ve probably forgotten something I’ll never see again. But who cares. I have a passport and I’m wearing clothes so I’m sorted.
I walk along feeling positive, ready to take on the world and explore my boundaries.
Another adventure to take on.

Shocking Insights

The day is turning into a warm celebration of the British summer. The flats all have their windows open as the nation greets the day and invites the fresh air into their abodes. I am a great lover of the human condition. What goes on in peoples lives and minds is a source of endless curiosity. I have always enjoyed catching odd snatches of private conversation as you walk past people. I hardly spy on anyone but it’s not like you can’t hear what people say as they walk past.

The next moment was an especially unique and perfect insight into someone else life. It came from a first-floor window instead of some people on the street. A most private transfer of thoughts from one lover to another that certainly wasn’t meant for my ears.

My thoughts were pierced by a cockney lady screaming in shock.

“Aaargghhhh!!” pause for breaths, “Wash your dirty cock you bastard!!”

I carried on walking with a deep sense of confusion as to how my day could have been interrupted with this. I mean one just doesn’t expect that when walking to the train. Like finding a sheep’s eyeball in your vegan froyo. It’s just in the complete wrong place and kind of disgusting. You genuinely WTF if this is real life for a moment and look for other humans to confirm reality.

Adjusting to this Insight

My mind can only wonder about the likelihood that I happened to be walking past their window at the exact moment this happened. An extra ten seconds day-dreaming before getting out of bed. Or 20 seconds more delicately teasing the shower into a state of not boiling and yet not freezing. Not taking a few wrong turnings on my run. And that’s just my perspective. Anything could have gone differently in their day and I wouldn’t have caught it. For starters, the guilty gentleman could have gone for a shower and washed his distasteful penis…

My mind can also only wonder at the exact scenario going on in that room. But what is a mind for other than wondering anyway?

After recovering from my confused shock it became a source of delightful contemplation and gratitude for my life as it is.

Simple Gratitude

I thought I was smug earlier with my run. I was winning compared to trying to make myself feel better with a bacon sandwich and paracetamol. But the thought of waking up to the taste of a dirty cock makes anyone want to vomit. It’s not good practice to “compare yourself” to others. However, I can’t help taking immense pleasure in the fact that right now I am unfathomable leagues of luckiness ahead of this poor soul.

cultivating gratitude and joy

I have many problems and frustrations to deal with over the next month. In the context of my life, they seem quite serious and important, like they might make or break me. But in reality, it is all quite fine. I won’t ever need to scrub the taste of dick cheese out of my mouth and memory. No amount of Listerine could purge that from your soul.

There are so many things in life to be grateful for. It’s easy to miss them.

Cultivating More Gratitude

When you’re feeling down it can be hard to think about how lucky you are. But in reality, the only real problem you have is the fact that you aren’t thinking positively. Cultivating a logical approach to get out of depression does not happen with the flick of a switch.

It takes practice and guidance to genuinely examine your problems and treat them as a philosophical puzzle. With enough logical thought, you can always find something to be grateful about. There is always a way to explain your problems in a positive light.

Whilst improving this skill you can just fall-back on the fact that you didn’t eat dick cheese for breakfast.

cultivating gratitude and joy

And if you have a dick. For the love of God. Wash it regularly.


If you liked this you might like some of my other blogs:

  • 50 Shades of WTF – What we can learn about love from 50 Shades of Grey and my general sexual failures