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For the past few months one of the highlights of my week has been writing and reading gratitude lists on the feed of a Facebook group I belong to.
The group is connected to work, a small collection of fellow business owners, it has capped numbers, a great vibe, no lurkers - we meet up once or twice a year and it is an amazing example of connection and collaboration overcoming competition and comparison.
On a Friday we are invited to post 3 things that we are grateful for in the past week - and that simple action has changed my relationship with these people and, I think, with myself too.
I practice daily gratitude - before falling asleep I lie in bed and relish all the things in the day that have brought me joy - sunlight through coloured glass on a windowsill, fresh eggs, the first roses blooming, a hug at the end of the day. It is a part of my routine and I find it powerful, calming, replenishing.
But somehow this weekly gratitude is different, for over the weeks a strain of vulnerability has appeared. Writing with witnesses means that our gratitude is no longer just for the fleeting pleasures of a day, but for strength to help a depressed friend, for the affection of an autistic child, for last minute reprieves and small steps towards recovery.
So often our presence on the internet is edited, filleted, we avoid truth, problems and shame. Trapped between the fear of washing dirty laundry in public and the comparison culture - we hide everything that may look bad. The illnesses, the mistakes, the damp flat, the boring day job, the screaming children - hidden by a screen of filtered images.
Yet it is this vulnerability, this openness, which has given me so much affection and admiration for this particular group of Facebook friends. Many of us will meet up at a work do in a couple of weeks. There in what is potentially a competitive arena - vying for orders - we will stand, firm advocates for each other, a powerful force for ensuring that all of us make it, thriving in our real lives with gratitude and vulnerability.