Day 1979 – Day 1985
That title of my previous post, “YouTube Famous” was a nod to the Millennial generation, the first generation to grow up on social media, and to create and aspire to participate in the phenomenon of going viral. I have no expectation that TTDOG’s YouTube channel will become YouTube famous and in fact, at a personal and selfish level, I’d be horrified and my skin begins to itch at the thought of it, because I am attached to this project. I’ve known several famous people and fame is something that looks great on the outside but comes at a very high price. I told a story and hoped that it would take the reader along a journey with me but maybe I didn’t signpost clearly enough the final destination. I truly do want the practice of Gratitude to go viral. It is the only reason that I’ve continued to write about gratitude, and my gratitude practice, past the original 7 day Facebook challenge.
Like every human, I am wildly flawed and plagued by ego – both the self-aggrandizing and the self-deprecating sides of that ego coin. My name may be associated with this project but being on camera, I pretty quickly realized that I needed to tell the story while taking the focus off of me, even as the storyteller. Yes, I am the writer and it is my subjective story of a long-term practice of gratitude that I am telling but the protagonist of the story is Gratitude, not me.
If this story of Ten Thousand Days of Gratitude should happen to go viral, if I’ve done my job well, it is Gratitude that will spread like wildfire. I will have succeeded in achieving one of my goals – these last 5 years – to be an instrument of what Robert Emmons calls a Global Renaissance of Gratitude.
My channel isn’t competing with all the other content providers making videos on gratitude. It is competing with the channels glorifying luxury consumption, self-made star status, and the obsession with more that comes from a mindset of lack.
I am aware of the underlying Christian ethic in the West that says one should not be seen to be virtuous in public. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus teaches that to guard against hypocrisy, one ought to be somewhat clandestine with our virtue. Whether one is Christian or not, if one lives in a Western democracy, this is a prevailing cultural imperative and we use it to assume hypocritical intentions of anyone who sets out to inspire others to follow a virtuous path, no matter how humbly it is done.
We have become so cynical that an outward expression of thanks is considered suspect and the whole practice of forming a habit and an attitude of gratitude is considered cliché. To be cliché means it is overdone, and the art of genuinely living gratefully is, sadly, forgotten in our modern world. We fill the air with empty words of thanks, to maintain an appearance of politeness, while sneering at those actively forming a practice to honour the sacredness of gratefulness, expressing profound appreciation to others, and acting upon that thankfulness to increase the good in the world. I’m afraid our happiness and wellbeing indices tell a story of a culture that is tragically lacking in gratitude, despite our social etiquette.
Public practice of a virtue is condemned, yet on television, in the news, on social media, and in our gossip, we make it a guilty pleasure to be spectators of the public practice of vice. That, to me, is hypocrisy.
The demographic that reads a written blog like this is somewhat different to the younger demographic that watches YouTube. There is yet a different demographic that consumes podcasts. Whether TTDOG gains a large following or not, I will put TTDOG on each of these platforms to increase the chance that this story will inspire others to practice gratitude. Emotion is contagious and in a world with the airwaves filled with bad news, I’d like to counteract that and spread the complex emotion of gratitude, with all the associated positive emotions and behaviours that attach to it.
I’m a servant to a social movement of Gratitude and a volunteer employee of the TTDOG brand. Doing this work comes at the sacrifice of earning more money in my professional gig and at the cost of my own creative work. I have been transformed and healed through the steadfast daily practice of gratitude and the cultivation of an attitude of grateful living. I could not, in good conscience, not do this work.
I believe in the great potential of gratitude to change the world. I have experienced in my own life what Robert Emmons calls the ARC model of gratitude – the ability of gratitude to Amplify, Rescue and Connect each of us. Gratitude amplifies the good in the lives of ourself and others by changing our predisposition to one that expects and recognizes the goodness in the world, it rescues us from a world built on doom and gloom, transforming a natural negativity bias, that robs us of our happiness, into a bias towards benevolence and the capacity for joy, and it connects us to others with our desire to pass on the great good we have experienced, though reciprocity.
I am dedicated to do my part to further a social movement of gratitude. Speaking of the teachings of Brother David Steindl-Rast, Emmons eloquently says, in The Little Book of Gratitude:
“The spark that can ignite a trend towards global gratitude is the zeal of men and women
who discover that grateful living makes life meaningful and fulfilling.”
For what are you most grateful, today?