Be Grateful for the Bad Things to Live Your Best Life
When you think of everything you’re grateful for it’s always gonna be more comfortable to focus on the good things, but it’s just as important to find reasons to be grateful for the bad.
Sure, thinking about the bad parts of life can overwhelm you with feelings of regret, grief, anger, and more, but complaining about the bad stuff will never make you feel better. It only makes you feel worse. You gotta snap that cycle if you wanna live your best life.
Maya Angelou said it best:
“What you’re supposed to do when you don’t like a thing is change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it. Don’t complain.”
We can all agree on that, right? I mean you’d have to be some kind of asshole to reject advice from Maya Angelou.
When you don’t like a thing, and you can’t change it, just reframe the way you think about it. Find a reason to be grateful for it, or, in spite of it.
Find the silver lining of every dark cloud and you’ll be on your way to living your best life.
A classic example of a silver lining
If you know anything about stoicism, or follow the Daily Stoic, then you’ve probably heard this story before because Ryan Holiday never shuts the fuck up about it. That’s also why it’s stuck in my head and why I’m telling you the story now. Don’t worry if you’re sick of it though, because I made the story better…lmao.
Zeno of Citium was a merchant who lived from c. 334 — c. 262 BC. This dude had slaves basically “milking” tens of thousands of murex sea snails for their mucous secretions, which were turned into a purple dye that was sold to kings, for their robes.
The purple dye was extremely hard to produce, but highly sought after, so it made Zeno filthy stinking rich. What a Chad.
Then one day, while he was traveling from Phoenicia to Peiraeus with his precious cargo of snail jizz, Zeno was shipwrecked, losing his fortune.
Imagine having every penny of the wealth you’ve worked hard for your whole life, with no help from anyone else (hashtag self-made), ripped away in a single instant. How would you feel about it? Inconsolable probably.
Well, that shipwreck eventually led to Zeno founding the stoic school of philosophy, and also proclaiming “I made a prosperous voyage when I was shipwrecked.”
In losing his wealth Zeno found purpose in a life he once found miserable and was able to reflect on a tragic event in a positive way. I mean even pretty immediately after the shipwreck he was probably like “thank the gods, I was so tired of jerking off snails.”
Start small and build from there
Do you think Zeno started with tens of thousands of snails?
No, he started with one, and he mercilessly milked that single poor snail dry over and over again until he found another. Zeno didn’t just start milking ten thousand snails all at once. That’s a preposterous idea. So don’t expect to tackle everything at the same time. It’s okay to start small.
“Well-being is realized by small steps, but is truly no small thing.” — Zeno, the snail tickler
There’s power in starting small. You get to slowly replace the negative cycle of bemoaning the bad with a positive cycle of finding the good.
Step by step you’ll be removing the chains of negative thinking and working towards always looking on the bright side.
The first time you look for a silver lining it might seem hard, but it gets easier the more you do it. I know one thing for sure, you find what you’re looking for whether you focus on the good or the bad in life.
So learn to find gratitude in everything and set yourself free.
You probably don’t need to know this extra bit of trivia, but using information from the wiki page for Tyrian purple, which is the dye Zeno sold, we can get somewhat of an idea of the scale of Zeno’s snail fondling operation.
As it turns out, “twelve thousand snails of Murex brandaris yield no more than 1.4 g of pure dye, enough to colour only the trim of a single garment.”
Knowing that, you can only imagine how many snails Zeno had to manually stimulate to fill a whole ship's cargo with their purple produce.
I now find it hard to say whether he did more good or more bad on this planet.
On the bright side, you can at least be grateful you aren’t one of Zeno’s snails.