Ask HN: What are you grateful for?

61 points | by bgoldste 9 days ago


  • enasterosophes 9 days ago
    I'm grateful I have a steady job which pays the bills, keeps a roof over my head, and puts food on the table, with enough money left over that I can save a little and splash out on modest luxuries without too many worries. I'm grateful that my industry is work-from-home friendly and I was able to coast through the covid years without much stress.

    Although I have my health issues, it could be far worse. I'm grateful I don't need someone else's help to live my life and basically do what I want. I'm grateful that I have a good memory and tend to learn stuff quickly.

    I'm grateful that there are people who love me.

    I'm grateful that I live in a country that is still relatively free and peaceful. I generally don't have to worry about violence or being treated unjustly.

  • baobaba 8 days ago
    A small neighbourhood bakery with a large diesel generator in Lviv that stayed open every day since the war in Ukraine started. Even during complete power blackouts they stayed open, brewed coffee, baked croissants, and let everyone charge their devices. Nowadays it's overrun with programmers like me as it's a reliable source of power and internet.

    My small Bluetti EB70 that lets me take hot showers when Russians launch rockets at our infrastructure and disconnect whole cities from the grid.

    Electrical engineers that keep fixing the grid so that my Bluetti can charge from time to time.

    A friend with Starlink who's happy to share internet. Simple things!

    • rdegges 8 days ago
      Hang in there, buddy.
      • baobaba 7 days ago
        Thank you, appreciate you reaching out from the internets!
    • qup 8 days ago
      What are you working on?
      • baobaba 7 days ago
        I am a backend developer (RoR stack, with some UI chops). I used to work for a well-known US company remotely, got let go a week ago. Right now I'm catching a breath and deciding what's next. I might work on my own projects + freelance for a while.
  • armchairhacker 8 days ago
    A lot.

    We don't realize how nice we have it. Computers, furniture, food, clothing: I could not build all of these myself. Also health, fitness, half-decent appearance, family: these are things nobody and no amount of money can give back if I lose them. My job and connections: I would be poor, homeless, struggling without them, and making new connections today is harder than ever.

    Does not mean that everything is perfect. And it's definitely not an excuse to criticize people which don't have all of these (e.g. shelter but not money, shelter and money but not friends or family, shelter and money and support but not health), as every single one is very important. But still, it's a lot, and many people just don't realize

  • bheadmaster 8 days ago
    I don't understand the (American?) concept of "gratitude".

    I think it's because it necessarily implies someone to be grateful to, most likely a divine being or an abstraction of it (such as the spirit of universe). I see the world as a chaotic place where most things are done through pure will of humans, and random events.

    If somebody does something good to me, I'm grateful to them. My current employer recruited me while I was in college, I was severely depressed and anxious, had frequent panic attacks and a few blowups at work, and they tolerated it because they believed I was "promising". I'm also aware that my skills (demonstrated to professors at college) were also a factor in their decision, but I'm still grateful to them, as people, for choosing to give me a chance.

    What I'm not grateful is the ordinary bullshit of being alive and healthy, being in a trade (programming) that earns quite a bit of money, having family, et cetera. Those things are pure chance, and yes, I got dealt good cards in some ways, but also bad cards in other ways. I don't see logic behind being "grateful" for the good things, while ignoring the bad.

    If it's just a psychological trick to make us "happier" with our lives, then I despise it even more. There is a purpose in being unhappy - fixing things is hard when you're "grateful" for what you have and don't want to risk changing anything. And if your life is truly good, you don't need a ritual of pointing out good things to feel good about it.

    Maybe I'm just overanalyzing it. But the concept of "gratitude" just feels fake to me.

    • littlelady 8 days ago
      I think you may be confusing gratitude with "toxic positivity". Gratitude is not a weapon wielded to prevent growth, that's more like "toxic positivity", where you must be positive no matter what. Gratitude is about drawing attention to the goodness in life, whether someone is bestows that thing upon you depends on your definition of it.

      There are lots of definitions of gratitude, some focus on the social aspect, others the moral aspect[1], but I have found keeping a gratitude journal to be helpful in managing my depression and anxiety, by teaching me that "happiness" and "contentment" are just as valid as "unhappiness" or "sadness".

      I understand the feeling of "phoniness" you might feel practicing it, but it gets easier over time. Sometimes I'm grateful my partner made me a coffee. Or I'm grateful that a friend called to check in with me, when I was unwell. Sometimes I'm grateful my pull request was merged. It's about little things.

      It's worth mentioning: being healthy, having a family, a high-paying, stable job is not "ordinary bullshit" for many people. I say this not to guilt you into being grateful, but to remind you that you seem to have a lot of goodness in your life.


      • bheadmaster 8 days ago
        > I say this not to guilt you into being grateful, but to remind you that you seem to have a lot of goodness in your life.

        Sure, I agree. There is a lot of good in my life.

        What seems to cause dissonance is how my life still feels like shit, despite all those good things. The answer I most often hear to this is "well, if you practiced more gratitude, you'd appreciate those things" - which feels like the old religious cliche of "if God doesn't help you, you aren't praying/believing enough".

        But to ask a concrete question - how would you describe the "activity" of practicing gratitude to, say, a child who's never heard of such a phrase? Is it just the act of pointing out "good" things about your life to yourself, or is there anything more to it?

        • littlelady 8 days ago
          I completely understand how you feel regarding the dissonance, because I can also feel the same way. Sometimes depression makes it easy to "rationally know" you have a lot to be grateful for, but it can somehow be twisted against oneself and turned into shame. Practicing gratitude can help you to learn how to allow yourself to feel happiness and contentment.

          In an ELI5-type answer: "Practicing" gratitude involves actively noticing your feelings of appreciation for something good in your life. That something good may be a meal, a relationship, overcoming an challenge, etc.

          For an adult beginner a gratitude journal is a great place to start! You can purchase one, like the "6-Minute Journal" or you can grab a blank piece of paper and pick a prompt from this pdf[1]. Pick a prompt: "Something beautiful I saw today..." "A fun experience I had..." "Someone I admire.." and spend a few minutes writing about that. Write in your journal 2-3 times a week. That's it!


        • adthomsen 8 days ago
          A way to explain the activity to a child could be: "Mention three good things that happened today". There are no rules, you can mention anything that you consider to be good. Do it every day.

          I didn't come up with this and obviously cannot say if it would work for you. Look up "Three Good Things" if you're curious about the theory.

    • tomcam 8 days ago
      I am daily grateful because I survived an upbringing that still gives me nightmares. Lost lots of friends and family while young. Lost my thyroid to cancer so I’ll die without meds. Being alive and somewhat healthy doesn’t feel like ordinary bullshit to me. Not at all.
    • gameman144 8 days ago
      To be clear, while gratitude does improve happiness, the thing that I find compelling is that it improves actual tangible outcomes (e.g. goal achievement, relationship health, doctor visits, etc.)

      Also, expressing gratitude for the things you have does not preclude recognizing areas that could be improved. I am grateful that I am able to walk around and use my body for exercise and sport without trouble; this doesn't mean that I think my creaky knees and back ache are good things, it just means that I appreciate those good things that I do have.

  • ozzythecat 8 days ago
    1. My grandchildren

    2. Everyone else in my family and their good health. My children are happy in the marriages. Spouse is as energetic as ever and still has the enthusiasm and love when we met back in college

    3. Quitting my last job before my physical and mental health completely shattered. Tell you what, if you’re also in the Amazon rat race, get out before it eats you.

    4. Not doing too much over the past year, aside from reading, light travel, and participating in some online communities

  • quickco 8 days ago
    “A healthy man wants a thousand things, a sick man only wants one.“

    Very thankful for health.

    • yash8141 7 days ago
      a poor man also wants one thing. :) same for homeless person.
  • clorohk 9 days ago
    Recently seen a great phrase:

    Be grateful for the things you don’t have to do.

    As programmers we have one of the nicest jobs in society, there’s a lot of shit that we don’t have to deal with (figurative and literally), I’m very grateful for that.

    • quickthrower2 8 days ago
      A big one is physical harm from the job, be that pollution, dust, hazards, danger.
  • h2odragon 9 days ago
    I can turn a handle and have as much (clean!) hot water as I need, pretty much whenever I want. This is so normal where I live that people only notice what a joy it is when it isn't there.

    I'm grateful for all the inventiveness and infrastructure and effort that's gone into making hot water so plentiful it is casually disposable.

    • quickthrower2 8 days ago
      I am greatful for the cold water. Never been poor but a survival course where we had to make river water drinkable - your whole day becomes about the water!
  • trentnix 8 days ago
    I’m grateful for being born to loving parents, a sound mind, a faithful wife, happy children, a fulfilling career, and confidence of purpose. I live a blessed life and am humbled by the same.
  • heresjohnny 8 days ago
    I am grateful for my above average health, a well paying job, a fortunate housing situation, and most of all my energy and focus. I have the means to be creative during the weekend in cafes and inspiring places. Something I have realized: it’s easy to lose yourself in lifestyle and social inflation, giving the impression that you’re doing just average. In fact, you’re probably doing very well.
  • medymed 9 days ago
    The stability of modern economies, public safety, services, and legal systems. If someone told me that in 8 months I would have to make my own food, fight off bandits, have no running water, and live under a capricious theocratic ruler I would be worried. It’s hard to thank one person for these things, but it’s helpful to pay basic taxes.
  • tomcam 8 days ago
    Delightful wife & kids. Sweet smell of air in the morning. Not being beaten or raped. Chickens. Modern medicine. New roof. Heated toilet seats. Thyroid medicine. Not having to wear a catheter. Food shopping with my wife. Szechuan cuisine HALLELUJAH. Not being incarcerated. The Constitution.
  • nonameiguess 8 days ago
    For context, my lowest three lumbar vertebrae were surgically fused five years ago, so it's now one solid bone with a bunch of titanium hardware that is no longer needed but not worth removing. The fact that the joints and surrounding muscles don't move and haven't moved in a long time means they can get pretty stiff and start throbbing and swelling after any prolonged usage.

    I had no idea exactly how bad that can get until I was assigned to a booth at SC22 last week and we had no chairs, so I was standing the whole time. I lasted about three hours each day, and after that, my low back was knotted up to the point I couldn't stand up straight, and it impinged enough to make my hips and knees swell up, too.

    So I'm grateful I don't have to do that. I've got a job I can do from my bed. For the record, I am quite active. I walk anywhere from an hour to two each day, though not in one shot. I lift every morning. But there's apparently quite a difference between brief bouts of intense activity and being on your feet for a prolonged period of time. There was a thread the other day here, possibly yesterday, about unemployed people in their 50s and 60s being excoriated for not getting jobs in an economy with low unemployment, and responses mentioning those jobs might be things like Walmart greeter or whatever. Cue the invited discussion about what exactly might be "beneath" a person of a certain history, but as far as I can tell, there seem to be enormous categories of jobs I couldn't do even if I wanted to, including many jobs I've done in the past like Disneyland performer, retail store manager, Army officer, park custodian. I could not be a Walmart greeter. I couldn't be a pilot or a long-haul trucker or a rideshare driver, since I can't sit for long periods of time, either. I can't be a park ranger or a tour guide.

    I'm lucky as hell that the job I happen to have is a job I can actually do, and I'll be grateful for as long as that continues to be the case. And I will continually advocate for companies that have jobs that can be done from home to allow those jobs to be done from home, without reprisal and without stigma, to expand the pool of people who can work.

  • mrkeen 8 days ago
    I'm grateful for all the academics/researchers who figure things so that we craftsmen don't have to. I can feel smart about having a basic understanding of Paxos, Hindley-Milner, Lambda calculus, etc. But there's no way I would have ever invented/discovered them, let alone prove their properties or formalise them.

    We (in industry) only have the possibility of saying things like "don't bother with a degree, just do a bootcamp or teach yourself" because of all the heavy lifting that researchers have done.

  • littlelady 8 days ago
    I am grateful that my family is coming to visit me soon. I haven't been able to see them due to Covid travel restrictions and am looking forward to hugging them and cooking with them.
  • ankaAr 8 days ago
    I'm grateful that my fiancee said yes this year :')
  • mikewarot 8 days ago
    I'm not appreciative enough, but I'm grateful for the warm technological blanket into which I was born and have lived. There are so many things that would have killed me 100 or 1000 years ago, that I and my family haven't had to deal with.

    I'm grateful for this community, for DanG and the others who keep it moderated and running.

    I'm grateful for the internet, and BBSs before that, and Printing, writing, language, all of the tech...sooooo much tech.

  • agent008t 8 days ago
    The fact that Thanksgiving is not a thing in Europe.
  • qup 8 days ago
    We had a nice rain overnight, and for much of the day today. It's misty and foggy out now. It has been much-needed--been a very dry year.

    I shared a meal this evening with some folks I admire, we spoke about topics I find interesting, and there was much laughter and no drama. Very thankful for this.

    I have everything I need to survive and thrive right now.

  • ilrwbwrkhv 8 days ago
    $4M taxable income this year.
  • basementcat 9 days ago
    Among many other things, I’m grateful that I’m not on a temporary work visa and don’t have to worry about going back to a country at war.
  • Kaibeezy 8 days ago
    When my kid was younger, I’d be asked: When would you go back to in a time machine? Dinosaurs? Cave people? Romans? I’d always reply: Nothing before antibiotics, anesthesia and modern dentistry.

    Love it or hate it, this year I’m grateful for Zoom. It’s only maybe halfway towards the goodness of in-person meetings, but at least it’s that.

  • CrypticShift 8 days ago
    I'm grateful for being able to be (genuinely) grateful.

    Seriously. Every time I see people who could not help themselves being so thankless/unmindful/ungrateful, I'm grateful for being able to be in a grateful state of mind and Act accordingly.

    • AnimalMuppet 8 days ago
      "If you can't find joy in snow, you have less joy, but still the same amount of snow" - meme my wife saw today. Whether or not you're grateful doesn't change your circumstances, but it does change how you feel about your circumstances.

      I'm a "glass half empty" person. I find it easier to complain than to be thankful. I need to work on that...

      • CrypticShift 8 days ago
        You can still be gratefull for being able to be mindfull of your (slips of) "ungratefulness" (and seeing the need to work on it)

        Mindfulness is key.

  • _rm 8 days ago
    I'm grateful that I have the chance to make something of myself.
  • Norivee 8 days ago
    I'm grateful for this platform, for my family and for life
  • asicsp 8 days ago
    Sustainable income being self-employed (4 years and counting). Especially since I had spent about 4.5 years failing to find a way to pay my bills (was burning through my savings).
  • ralston3 8 days ago
    My family's health, having enough $ to have my basic needs met (and maybe even some non-basic needs), and type systems that keep me from blowing my foot off :)
  • dcj4 9 days ago
    absolutely nothing.
    • dustymcp 8 days ago
      At some point it will turn and eventually you will be grateful for something, hang in there!
  • ineedausername 8 days ago
    Do you mean grateful in regards to our tech professions?
  • Teridee 8 days ago
    Health and the ability to not have burnt out
  • Denteri 8 days ago
    Life, and the strength to face each new day
  • fullshark 9 days ago
    What matters: Your loved ones and your health.
  • graderjs 8 days ago
    Being here now.
  • ana_journee 8 days ago
  • IanDrake 9 days ago