I started this thing with my friend where we text each other gratitude lists each night, to both help right my viciously negative attitude about life and humans (mostly humans) and so I can dutifully follow along with all lifehack blogs' conventional wisdom about happiness. Far be it from me to leave some self-improvement method left untried.
As I kept texting my lists, I realized how much of it was just the little things. Little stupid perks. There's the regular things like my cats, my partner, my job - the bigger things. But the less rote ones are all things like food, makeup or uh, toys. Then, Lifehacker threw me for a loop and noted you get more out of a gratitude list if you note why you're grateful for something. (And I believe 75% of what I read on lifehack websites, so...) Some of it is obvious: food is delicious and possibly nourishing! Coffee is great - delicious and caffeinated! Being healthy is great, especially when you've just gotten over a cold - extra grats! But when I got to some of the more consumer-ish stuff, it was harder to pin down an actual why.
Here is an example. I am grateful for this e.l.f. lip color. It's a slightly pumped up neutral that is easy to wear and makes me look more put together than clear lip balm. And then it veers into...so I can look a certain way? But I have to admit it's the truth. I honestly enjoy this measly tube of lip stuff because it's a flattering neutral and I care about my appearance enough to be grateful for it.
But that was not a natural why to come to. Why?
Same with this Wet n Wild megalength mascara. It was one of my "I survived another week of crappy shoulder appointments" rewards. If we're IG friends, you've seen this already. I was grateful for it because it's vegan, not tested on animals and works well. I replaced my $20+ Lily Lolo mascara with this. I'm grateful because it helps me look like I have pronounced eyelashes and is at least vegan and cruelty-free. I'm grateful for something that enhances my appearance and is fun to use, is cheap and is at least slightly in alignment with my animal welfare values.
It's interesting to see this theme pop up within the dozens of items I list every week. Obviously most of the anchors on my gratitude list are more weighty than the above examples and their presence in my life is very important, but I think adding the why to some of the "lighter" items gives me some insight as to how often I am pleased by something that I think improves my appearance and also is something else (vegan, not tested on animals, not expensive, made with good labor standards, comfortable).
I think everyone thinks about their appearance and wants to look a certain way (whatever their preference is) so I have no shame about that. And I am also fine with wearing makeup despite it being a form of "choice feminism" and understanding that it, and every single thing I do is framed in a patriarchal system. But for some reason the why for these items is harder to spell out than the others.
Is it because we're not used to copping to caring what we look like? In this world? That seems strange.
Is it the opposite of overconfidence? I don't want to admit that I think I look good? That seems strange too. I've never felt unattractive (thusly I've always felt attractive, generally).
Is it because I dislike my habits of buying stuff? While I can cop to over-buying when it comes to makeup (#progressnotperfection #hopefullysomeprogresstho), I don't think that would get in the way of why I appreciate a certain item. I don't begrudge myself buying makeup in general.
I'm not really sure what it is that makes the why I'm grateful for this stuff such a challenge, but it's there.