These past couple weeks I’ve been more reflective than usual and last night prior to heading to sleep, I started to contemplate two specific questions I was routinely asked for a month at a time at three separate points in my life. At ages 17, 20, and the week leading up to my 26th birthday, I was posed these questions/challenges: What was I thankful/grateful for that day and what was I proud of doing? No matter how poorly the day might have went, even if it seemed to have unraveled to pieces, I still was expected to see the upside. I wonder if those of you who are reading this have ever asked yourselves these questions, or if you were, what would you say?
What we are thankful/grateful for or proud of ourselves for doing does not have to be something so momentous or blockbuster, but rather can be an everyday occurrence. Life is and can be so hard and to me, we owe it to ourselves to celebrate and recognize persevering through the challenges we face and the successes we achieve.
Some days I’m grateful for the chance to enjoy a mug of coffee, its familiar aroma circulating through the air, my hand cradling the warm mug, temporarily erasing my worries. Other times, I’m grateful for the ability to walk freely outside my front door, my legs carrying me from place to place, never knowing who I could meet. Life is unexpected, unpredictable and not promised. I’m painfully reminded sometimes of how easy it is to take the things, people and places in our lives for granted.
An example? Sending a text message to a loved one and receiving a response, knowing they are there, listening, reading my thoughts. When I was in college, in lieu of texting because she was at work and me, in the computer lab on campus, in between classes, sometimes I’d compose emails back and forth with Hope, my sister. Not long ago, I stumbled upon some of those now 11+ year-old emails and I am grateful. In many of those emails, I detailed my struggles, lamenting of how desperately I wanted to withdraw from college and run; not literally, but rather once again abandon my goals, personally and professionally. Through those emails, I weathered through my remaining college years as they became my “saving grace” so to speak. Knowing I could type a message to my sister and receive her empathy and encouragement, is an epitome of my gratefulness.
Similarly, as I struggled in the subsequent years with employment, during the day, my mom and I would text back and forth and given the phone she had, texting wasn’t always the easiest. Still, I would find comfort and in turn, be grateful for text messages reading, “It will b ok.” I still even look at those words, partially written in shorthand/slang and feel reassured.
What I’m trying to say is: to be thankful, grateful and proud is to appreciate and recognize all that makes life bearable and worth living. Again, it does not have to be something as grandiose as winning the lottery, having your dream job or a mansion, but can be celebrating the supposed “small things,” in life, like enjoying a favorite meal, the comfort of holding someone’s hand, taking a walk, breathing in fresh air; all of which when we actually stop to think about it are not so small after all.
So today and each day moving forward, I encourage you to ask yourself and others, if you’d like, what you are thankful/grateful for and proud of doing. From my experience, I think you’ll be surprised of all you can think of.