Grateful for the progress


For me, the month of November is special because of Election Day and Thanksgiving.  Both days inspire and motivate me, but I know that sentiment is not universal.

When I take time to be grateful I notice a change in my mood and a sense of relief in my daily stress level. Being conscious of all the good things in your life is good for your health.

Psychologists suggest keeping a Gratitude Journal where you make a daily list of all the things you are grateful for. This exercise, and many others, helps your mental health. We worry so much about our bodily health and forget that our brain is very much a part of our bodies.

Acknowledging all the good in your life doesn’t mean that you have to pretend that you have never suffered, or that your traumas were not real. But it does ask you to think of those traumas in a broader context taking into account all the good, as well.

I think about Thanksgiving Day from this angle (obviously, also recognizing its checkered history). I imagine it as a national mental health exercise, and that’s why I like it. It is a holiday that hopefully cultivates humility and compassion for others.

That’s also how I see Election Day. Many feel overwhelmed and don’t want to know anything about politics. I get it. At the same time, I am grateful for the opportunity to make change. And our societies can change.

Remember it was only 10 years ago when California voted for Proposition 8, the vote around civil marriage rights for same-sex couples. Even though we lost that proposition (and perhaps because of the loss itself), the repercussions of the political loss motivated the social change that we are living in now. Now we can get married and our social and familial customs, little by little, are adapting.

That is just one example of many that show that progress and improvements are possible. I am not saying that progress is inevitable, that would be taking it for granted. On the contrary, all these changes were won after lots of hard work and battles, both political and personal. There are martyrs that were victims of these injustices in their times, that died defending rights I now enjoy. (In fact, there currently is still no constitutional right to vote in the US.)

I don’t have to be an expert in every political issue, nor a historian to feel grateful to be an inheritor of all the benefits provided by those activists. When I vote I feel that I am honoring my commitment to those ancestors, adding my contribution. I may not know everything, but I know I seek a more just and compassionate world, and that my vote is for that.

Please join me by casting your vote this Tuesday, November 6.

#Vote Yes on Prop 10 to stop skyrocketing rents.