I wrote this post for VA is for Bloggers a couple weeks ago. As Easter just passed and an important but sad anniversary occurs for me tomorrow, I thought today would be a great day to share a post on gratitude.
I think there comes a time where you lose yourself in the chaos that is life. Family reunions, student loans, car troubles, bad hair days, spouse annoyances, dishes, workouts, grocery shopping, daycare, commute, rent… I haven’t even mentioned work stress yet! Factor in loss, grief, anxiety, worry and you begin to wonder if happiness will ever make an appearance again.
Piggybacking off a recent post I did about remembering to savor the little joys in life, I’ve recently been thinking a lot about being grateful–not only for the those little things in life, but much more. Life can be so hectic that we end up focusing on only the chaos and negatives in life that we forget to be grateful for what we do have. I think gratitude is so much more than just being thankful for having a job and a working car. I think gratitude is different for every person, but I feel true gratitude is a deep-seated, encompassing, touches-the-soul appreciation for what keeps up sane, keeps us grounded, and keeps us going in life. I think true gratitude can really affect the outlook you have on life and can really cultivate the happiness we envy of those that naturally exude it.
I myself am guilty of forgetting to be grateful. After my father passed, it was hard to feel anything other than sadness and despair. The profound void his absence left affected so many other areas in my life-relationships with family, friends, my passion for fitness, and even my love for baking goodies for coworkers faded. It was hard to find happiness in almost everything that used to bring me joy. It was especially hard to be happy for others.
But this lasting sadness was exhausting. One day I literally got fed up not being my normal, former-happy self. I knew I couldn’t flip the switch from sad to happy, so I simply willed it- fake it ’till you make it was how I learned to get back to happy. Even today when I feel sick of being stressed out, I will a better outlook. It’s kind of a mantra I silently repeat to myself throughout the day or when life gets chaotic: It will be a good day, I will not let stress overwhelm me, I will have fun. It took years of practice, but on really bad days it works. Yes, I still have days where I am a grumpy, moody B because of stress and grief. But having this outlook helped me to see the good things I was missing by being mentally absent. I learned to have a new appreciation that, with a bit of practice and awareness, I can be happy again, and that life does go on. And the gratitude for this knowledge is priceless.
An interesting article I found online noted that gratitude can make it easier to cope with stress and trauma, even after such a traumatic event like 9/11. “A positive perspective allows you to obtain a better grasp on suffering. ‘Expressing gratefulness during personal adversity like loss or chronic illness, as hard as that might be, can help you adjust, move on, and perhaps begin anew,’ Lyubomirsky says. In the days following September 11, 2001, gratitude was found to be the second most commonly held emotion.” That is pretty amazing, don’t you think?
A long-held belief of mine is that without suffering there can be no compassion. I feel that without gratitude there can be no contentment. I believe anything worth having is worth fighting for. I think this is especially true for complete happiness. I believe true happiness is worth fighting for, and I am so grateful I have the opportunity to strive for happiness every day.
I am grateful to have a wonderful and loving mom, sister, and niece and nephew:
I am grateful for my amazingly supportive friends:
I am grateful for my incredibly patient, kind, and adoring boyfriend:
And lastly, I am so grateful for this one life I was granted to fill with hope, wonder, laughter, memories, experiences, and love.
What are you truly grateful for in life? Do you practice gratitude?
Rock on Lovers!