I’ve been actually writing in my journal a bit more (at the suggestion of my therapist). And like looking through my past entries, they were a bit disturbing to me. Well, if anyone were to pick it up, I’m sure they’d be concerned and would probably say I should be hospitalized. But hey, I wrote down what I was feeling at the time because people always say it’s important to just get those thoughts down on paper. Which actually isn’t terrible advice. However, I doubt my journal entries should be nothing but bad thoughts and terrible news.
Lately though, I’ve been feeling really grateful. I’m not entirely sure what it is but I’m filled with gratitude. I’m not saying that there’s nothing ever wrong in my life but there are some good things happening and some stuff I wish was better. But just reflecting on how far I’ve come has been kinda nice. It’s something that I ask my students from time to time to get them in the habit of being thankful or grateful for even the little things.
There’s always something to be grateful for. I believe it was motivation speaker and successful entrepreneur Ed Mylett that said to just be grateful for the weather. For example, if it’s sunny outside, be grateful that the sun is shining or for the warmth of the sun. On the flip side, if it’s raining out then be grateful that the plans are being nourished. Maybe it won’t be super hot outside and typically when it rains the temperature seems to drop a bit. The point is, no matter what, find something to be grateful for. I remember once, for our attendance question for the day, I told my students to tell me something good. It could be big or small as long as it was something. When one would say “I have nothing to be grateful for” I challenged him. I told him that he was able to wake up. He was able to get online and have access to his assignments and education. I told him that he had a place to lay his head at night or maybe clothes on his back, food in his belly, the list goes on and on.
There is at least one thing that each of us can be grateful for. It can be the smallest thing. My point is to reflect on that and when things just suck or seem like it’ll never get better, just know it will. Every experience in our journey of life is tricky. It’s not prettier. It’s those moments when things are not okay that define us. That shape us.
It has been shown that “by consciously practicing gratitude, we can train the brain to attend selectively to positive emotions and thoughts, thus reducing anxiety and feelings of apprehension.” The simple act of reminding yourself of the positive things in your life – even as simple as the roof over your head or food on your plate – can invoke feelings of thankfulness and optimism that make managing stress, depression or anxiety easier.
What are some ways to show gratitude or ways to bring more gratitude in your life?
- Appreciate everything. No matter if it’s big or small. Be grateful for it!
- Find gratitude in your challenges. Instead of thinking “why is this happening to me” think instead, “why is this happening for me?”. What is the lesson is this teaching you?
- Keep a gratitude journal. It can be a bullet journal or maybe something you write in each day. You can write three things or five things a day. The point is that the more you do it, the more gratitude will take over in your life and you can begin to feel better about things.
- Volunteer helping others. Doing something for others really makes you grateful. Maybe volunteer at a shelter. Or maybe do chores or cook a meal for some sick or elderly. Focus on someone else and things will be better for you and your outlook on life.
- Spend time with loved ones. Note I didn’t say family, although sometimes friends can be like family. But be around people who build you up not tear you down. Remember to go where you are appreciated and not tolerated.
What are some things I’m grateful for?
- Life. I mean it! I tried to kill myself on several occasions and I’m still here. My mom died of AIDS and I’m not entirely sure on when she caught it but if it was before she got pregnant with me, then it’s a miracle that I don’t have it.
- God. I’m so grateful to have a relationship with Jehovah. He has sustained me when I wasn’t sure how I would make it the next day. Its great that I can go to him anytime of the day and he’d be there for me. I love reading and learning about him. The more you reach out to him, the closer he will come to you.
- Employment. I have a job. I can pay for things. I remember one day I was getting gas and like this time last year, I had to make a choice between eating and having gas to get to and from work. Like I’m blessed to finally be able to have money to pay bills, I actually have a bed to sleep on that I bought (there have been times I’ve slept on a bare floor).
- My friends. My true friends that is. Those who have my back no matter what. Those who push me to be better and who nudges me out of my comfort zone. Those who tell me “I got you” and really actually mean it. Those who’ve seen me at my lowest and at my highest and are still there. I’ll add my family in there too because my aunt and my grandma have come through for me many many times and I’m so thankful for them.
- My cat. I love him so much. I got him in a rough patch in my life and maybe that’s why I’m so attached to him but I just love him. I can’t imagine my life without my cat. He’s more than just a pet, he’s my baby. He makes me life and is such a great cuddle partner. I just love him so much!
What are some things you are grateful for?