My friend Louise told me she keeps a gratitude journal to buoy her spirits.

“How’s that working out for you?” I asked.

“Oh, you know,” she said. “It helps about half the time.”

Half the time sounds pretty good to me, so I keep a gratitude journal now, too. Here’s what I wrote today: “I’m grateful that second impulses were invented.” Why? Because my first impulse is always my worst impulse. I offer the following as evidence.

• Whenever a car cuts me off on the freeway, I want to challenge the driver to a rumble at the nearest elementary-school playground. You know. Just like the Sharks and the Jets in “West Side Story.” I want us to put on some super-tight pants and taunt each other while busting out dance moves on a four-square court.

• Whenever my neighbor Kathy makes brownies for me to take to the care facility where I occasionally volunteer, I want to eat them all myself and then tell the residents Kathy forgot to make brownies for them this time.

• Whenever my alarm goes off first thing in the morning, I want to break the alarm clock and then blame it on the dogs. This is why you have dogs. So you can blame stuff on them.

• Whenever I go through the checkout line at the grocery store, I want to buy tabloids that body shame movie stars, because after I’ve eaten all of Kathy’s brownies, it feels good to body shame someone besides myself.

• Whenever I finish a can of Dr Pepper, I want to throw it in the garbage can because it takes fewer steps to get to our garbage can than it takes to get to our recycling bin.

• Whenever someone asks me to help them move, I want to tell them that I have a bad back. Even though I don’t have a bad back.

• Whenever I get halfway through a mystery, I want to skip ahead and read the ending — just like my husband always does.

• Whenever I see a piece of jewelry I like (ooooo! shiny!), I want to pull out my credit card and buy it on the spot.

• Whenever someone asks me if I’ve done something I was supposed to do, I want to say yes. Even if I haven’t actually done it.

• Whenever I see a letter written to someone else lying around, I want to read it. Even if it’s none of my business. Especially if it’s none of my business.

• Whenever I go to a restaurant, I want to ask people for bites of their food. Even if I don’t know them. (KIDDING!) (But still.)

• Whenever I have to deal with an automated voice instead of a human-being voice, I want to start shouting swear words into the phone. I miss talking to real human beings on the phone SO MUCH!

• Whenever I go to Western Garden to visit my friend Heather, I want to buy more plants, even though there is literally no room in my garden for more plants. (Except for maybe one more phlox.)

• I used to want to stick my tongue on the ski-lift chair when my friend Gigi Ballif and I were riding up the mountain. So I did. Once when we were 13. I’m over that now.

Actually, I’m happy to report that I don’t give in to my first impulses as much as I used to when I was younger. Maybe that’s one of the good things about getting older. Experience has made it easier for me to take a deep breath and wait for the second impulse to kick in. Second impulses are awesome. They save a girl from herself.

Yup. I’m grateful they were invented.

Ann Cannon can be reached at or