Interstitial Gratitude

Gratitude is found in-the-moment not in retrospect.

Most gratitude exercises are centered around writing three or so things that you are grateful for every day. Recall and remember. Notoriously fallible and for some hard to do. This exercise can reduce this exercise to listing the broad categories of privileges and advantages in life.

To create a real-time felt sense of gratitude notice them when they are currently happening. Communicate them directly, out loud - to the specific target of the gratitude, to a random person, or to an empty room. The act of vocalizing gratitude can reify it.

Interstitial is becoming my favorite word. Interstitial gratitude. Seeing gratitude in the current situation. Gratitude in the present moment. If you're going to add anything to the present moment, you could do worst the adding a sense of gratitude. 

Image by  Will Simpson

Image by Will Simpson

What makes this so powerful is that gratitude becomes a normal by-product daily life. It requires no evaluating, comparing or thinking.

When we seek our gratitude only by thinking and remembering, something as obscure as the beauty of sunlight passing through steam would never occur to us.
— David Cain

If you want to feel gratitude mixed in the day, forget the once or twice a day recollecting and instead express the interstitial moment of gratitude. Not just for the big life scale events. Vocalize them or pause in the moment and jot them down in a notebook. You’d have to have a notebook to jot these things down in, so start carrying one everywhere. Pay attention, grab small opportunities. 

At any moment you can reflect on what is helpful or beautiful and express gratitude for that because it won’t be there the next time you look. Don’t just snuggle to identify it, enjoy the experience itself. This is what can be hard as we are taught that we need to name, label our experiences. Hard to just enjoy an experience and not express gratitude. 

Gratitude is a very individual thing. One its characteristics is the way it is so clear to me but maybe not you. Someone else understanding is not a requirement. These details count and add up even in the midst of unresolved problems. 

With this practice, you can bring this type of gratitude spontaneously to the big picture conditions of your life. 

Examples composed NOT in the moment - Boring

Being able to see
Not being born as a person 5000 years ago
Warm house
Mary, my sweetie

Interstitial examples - Mixed in the moment - Dynamic

The snow-covered park bench looks cold unlike me
I love the music here in the cafe
This moment's reflection - I don’t have tooth pain now
The smell of brewing coffee

Hope you have an awesome day!

Credits — David Cain

This journal is meant as a reminder to encourage my future self. Where I work on my mental fitness and ‘adulting’. A reminder to him to operate in the world with love and compassion and some tips put together in a moment of clarity to help him when he is less clear and caught up in stuff the he can’t control.  Continue the conversation anytime: