The notion of gratitude has a new meaning to me at this stage in my life. This past year has been a very trying one for me. With various life changes and tough life lessons learned, I’ve found myself in and out of a rut. Depending on the day, my mood varied across the light to dark spectrum. My family and I have suffered a devastating loss in our family. I’ve embarked on an exciting new adventure of blogging. Took on a time-consuming project of planning a festival. Even experienced the demise of a long-term relationship. All mixed with the typical day to day moments of work, life, and play. The biggest life lesson of all, however, has been appreciating the importance of gratitude.
They say you can fake it until you make it, and I believe that the same holds true for practicing gratitude. You might not feel very thankful in the present moment when your bad days become overwhelming, but does that mean that you shouldn’t try to see the glass as half full and find a way to be grateful for what you do have? Life is full of twists and turns. The key is to experience and acknowledge every moment for what it is but not to let the darkness get the best of you.
There is ALWAYS something to be grateful for even in your darkest of days. A favorite book of mine also mentioned in Curtis’ post, Unlock The Key to Success with Five Must-Reads, is “A Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl. Frankl, a Jewish psychologist during World War II, was sent to Auschwitz but survived the horrific experience. The book, however, is uplifting in that it highlights that despite hardships, even to the likes of Nazi imprisonment, there’s always meaning behind life and a way to turn any negative into a positive.
Preface- I know my issues are all first world problems, and there are people suffering from real issues every day all over the world. With that being said, as empathetic and selfless as we try to be, we’ve all been through hardships of our own. Finding ways to cope is something most people struggle with.
Most recently, through dealing with my breakup, life put me through various tests. Ending a long term relationship is no easy feat, and as tough and positive as I try to be, this past month has been emotionally draining. Pair that with the task of moving out of our shared apartment- the perfect mix of physical work and emotional despair. As if that wasn’t enough, my day job began to pick up at top speed, and my responsibilities were increasing steadily. The extra blog work that I once found as refuge soon became another task on my extensive to-do list. And to top it all off, I was in the midst of festival planning mode.
I was overwhelmed, to say the least. After a few emotional breakdowns and near panic attacks, I had to make a choice. A choice to be happy. A choice to be positive. A choice to be grateful. Channeling my inner Queen Bee, I tried to make lemonade with all the lemons the world was throwing at me. The truth is, you truly can control your mood. Life gets tough but so what?! Would you rather be a lousy grump your whole life or look on the bright side and turn your mood around? I’ve experienced three simple ways to practice gratitude that’s helped me live in happiness even when my mood starts to dip.
Put things into perspective
As I mentioned earlier, things could always be worse right? Yeah, I’m going through a breakup and stressed with my life, but I have a job, food to eat, a roof over my head, and people that love me. Soooo it’s not that bad. Don’t take this as an excuse to not validate your feelings, however. There are times when I try to push aside my emotions because I think they’re silly and meaningless. Don’t compare your situation with others. We all go through our shit, and you’re entitled to feel down in the dumps sometimes even if it’s menial in the grand scheme of things.
The point of putting things into perspective is to look at the big picture. Acknowledge your feelings but after you’ve thrown yourself a mini pity-party, ask yourself ‘Is it really that bad?’ Chances are, it’s probably not. And if it is bad, there’s always a way out if you choose to pursue that route. Problems within your circle of influence are an opportunity to control your circumstances instead of letting your circumstances control you. If people who’ve endured terrible hardships such as warfare, abuse, and physical pain; you too can create happiness.
Appreciate what you have vs. what you don’t
A lot of the times, Millennials especially, we look at happiness as a conditional emotion.
I’ll be happy when I get married.
I’ll be happy when I snag that promotion.
I’ll be happy when I feel financially stable.
Goals and aspirations play an integral role in success but don’t place your happiness on fleeting checkpoints. Once we reach the finish line, we’re happy for a brief moment and then plateau. Think about the last material item you couldn’t wait to have. How long did it take for the shininess and newness to die down? Not long I’m sure. Instead, stop placing so much value on the things we want but don’t have. Be grateful for what you have. If you take the time to look at your life, I’m sure you have an abundance of things to be grateful for!
Acknowledge the little things
Here’s your chance to channel your inner child, in awe of the little things that we quickly forget as the world taints our sense of amazement. I try my best to see the beauty in the seemingly boring and small moments. If you look hard enough, I promise you’ll uncover hundreds of things to be grateful for. I moved back in with my parent’s after my breakup, and they live a million miles away from my job. With a two hour + commute (one way I might add), I’ve found beauty in a sunny day or the perfect playlist to add some positivity to the daunting drive.
Every morning is a gift, and every experience is a life lesson meant to be learned. I truly believe that everything happens for a reason. By channeling that logic when things go wrong, you’re able to find the positives in a field of negativity.
It’s easy to be grateful when all is well, but it’s a difficult task when you’re in a rut. But remember to look at the bigger picture. If it’s in your circle of influence, there’s always a way out of hardship. If not, there’s a way to turn any negative into a positive. How? By making a choice to be happy! Manifest the reality you wish to experience.
Don’t waste precious moments fretting over what you want and instead, pay attention to all the amazing things you do have. When you take a moment to appreciate what you have, your FOMO over frivolous things is sure to die down.
Lastly, take the time to stop and smell the roses. Life is complicated at times, but it doesn’t have to be. Life is a gift, choose happiness and find the bright side to any situation. Before long it will become an inclination instead of a chore.
The art of gratitude takes much practice, wisdom, and patience. So don’t worry Adventurers; this is just the beginning. Tune in all month to learn more about how we practice gratitude!