We Need More Think Pieces About Things That Make Us Thankful To Be Alive
It’s easy to become overwhelmed with the abundance of articles, think pieces, personal essays, and Op-Eds about everything that people are doing wrong. Hot takes on films, critical analyses of television shows, and opinion pieces about the human condition as portrayed on screen or lived offline do a great job of highlighting the problems with the world. While it’s important to critique and analyze the world, and humanity’s relationship to it and the universe beyond, with respect to the horrific and painful parts of existence, it’s also important to leave room for discourse about the things that make us smile. The things that make our lives worth living.
I want to clarify that this isn’t a plea for everyone to focus on the bright side, choose love over rage, or try to just be positive. It’s an invitation to honor and reflect on the aspects of our lives, and the world, that inspire us to do better be a better people. The things that we witness and experience that make us feel thankful for our heartbeats and grateful for our existences if even for a few moments of the day.
For every narrative that chronicles or analyzes a triggering or heartbreaking scene from a show, filmic character arc, or real life instance of violent injustice, there’s an element of the story that could be transformed into an uplifting article. While the uplifting article might not solve the problem on its own, it could, like writing itself in general can, lead to action. In the same way that one small hole can sink a ship, one passionately written article can start a movement. In the age of social media, where tweets inspire documentaries and hashtags impact policy, it’s important to consider the influence that honest and transparent narratives can have on society. For better and for worse.
If you’ve ever read an article that educated you about a possible solution to a problem you may not have even known was a problem, a listicle that made you laugh until you cried tears of joy on a particularly bad day, or an essay that made you feel less alone and inspired you to seek help, then you understand the power of words. They can move us to act or inspire us to do, think, and feel things we never knew were possible. In some cases, they can inform us about helpful or life-saving resources. In other cases they can offer insight into new perspectives about an issue we’re interested in learning more about.
While it’s great that there are countless pieces we can turn to to learn about how to break up with toxic partners, end unhealthy relationships, and better understand all the things we’re doing wrong and how to do better, it’d be even better to supplement our consumption of those types of content with immersion in pieces about the aspects of life and relationships that we’re thankful for. Healthy relationships rooted in trust and compassion exist. Nontoxic partners and radically intimate social relations exist. Relatedly, there are lived experiences and features of the world that subvert traditional narratives about life as we know it with respect to systemic and structural issues. It’s time for them to be shared.
There are so many reasons to feel helpless, alienated, and fearful of the world in which we live and we’re constantly bombarded with reminders of them in the form of content we consume online. In a sea of journalistic trauma porn and devastating narratives about life in an unjust and violent society, there’s room for uplifting narrative buoys to keep us afloat. Hiding from the pain and suffering of the world in online echo chambers and protective, digital bubbles in love-obsessed corners of the internet isn’t a solution to the problems of the world. Similarly, regularly consuming triggering content can be exhausting and increase our feelings of helplessness and alienation. Finding harmless ways to navigate interlocking systems of oppression, even while coping with pain and suffering ourselves, is important to our well-being. Writing about the things that make us thankful to be alive can help us.
I’m not arguing that we need less articles, think pieces, personal essays, and Op-Eds that focus on structural violence, systemic injustice, and features of the world that fill us with feelings of rage and sadness. I’m suggesting that we need more of them that remind us of why we actively choose to continue living. Navigating white supremacist, sexist, transphobic, imperialist, capitalism can be exhausting and traumatic. Nevertheless, marginalized folks find ways to have moments, even if fleeting, of pleasure, bliss, faith, and hope. When shared, those experiences can become sources of inspiration for others and, at the very least, shine a light on things that help us survive and thrive while coping with injustice.