Tony Leighton is a Canadian writer happily retired and attempting to help others feel the same.

The Tonic of Gratitude

I find it helps to put myself, my troubles, and my life in the context of the rest of the world, or if that's too extreme, the rest of the the western world, where I exist.

Have you heard of "shit-life syndrome"?

I hadn't either until I read this piece in the Guardian.

Life expectancy in the United States and Britain has started to drop after years of only increasing. Here are some unsettling statistics. And it's not an equitable drop. (It never is.) Poorer people are dying earlier. So are dispirited people (often poor), victims, according to the Guardian piece, of this:

US doctors coined a phrase for this condition: “shit-life syndrome”. Poor working-age Americans of all races are locked in a cycle of poverty and neglect, amid wider affluence. They are ill educated and ill trained. The jobs available are drudge work paying the minimum wage, with minimal or no job security. They are trapped in poor neighborhoods where the prospect of owning a home is a distant dream. There is little social housing, scant income support and contingent access to healthcare. Finding meaning in life is close to impossible; the struggle to survive commands all intellectual and emotional resources. Yet turn on the TV or visit a middle-class shopping mall and a very different and unattainable world presents itself. Knowing that you are valueless, you resort to drugs, antidepressants and booze. You eat junk food and watch your ill-treated body balloon. It is not just poverty, but growing relative poverty in an era of rising inequality, with all its psychological side-effects, that is the killer.

Such grimness, increasingly common in our privileged society, renders me almost wordless. And, on the flip side, immensely grateful for my good fortune.

Gratitude, I believe, is the beginning of finding greater purpose, and taking better personal care in whatever you choose to do with the rest of your life.

Good luck is the battle half won.

The brilliant Sam Harris puts gratitude in perspective here.


Feel free to email me about this post.
I probably can’t respond but would appreciate your insight or story or query, which I might refer to in a future post.

What now?

The Cultivation of Opposites