Every day, we are learning. Every day, we are choosing. We do not solely choose our actions based on our circumstances, but we typically choose based on how we feel. In all actuality, the only thing that is honestly within our control is ourselves and our decisions that we choose to make on a day to day basis.
So even when other people hurt us, when our pain is induced by someone else's decisions, the choice is nevertheless ours, in spite of if we let that pain make us feel inferior, or if we decide to let it go.
I have let the pain and emotional damage from detached memories that I should have forgiven long ago... as if they just happened yesterday. I have held onto the indignation and avoiding accountability. Needless to say, letting go of the past is all well overdue.
I was aware of my inadequacies, and I have yet to make amends. Regrettably, I chose to avoid the responsibility of taking action of my poor choices. Once again, it is all well overdue.
In my first self-help book, I have ever purchased, "You Are A Badass: How To Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life," by Jen Sincero, I purposefully highlighted this quote: "If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present." Life is not meant for living in the pitfalls of the past, or in fear of the future. This is where we tend to lose our sense of gratitude.
I have struggled with self-image, anxiety, and depression for years now. However, I still find it challenging to understand why being thankful and expressing emotions in a healthy manner can be such a complicated thing to do. Growing up, I have always been an angsty, stressed, passive-aggressive person who allowed feelings and emotions to completely take over. As I use my experiences to reflect on the society we live in today, I found myself coming to terms that I am not the only person who struggles with this.
Cultivating a sense of gratitude will benefit one psychologically, physically, and interpersonally in all aspects of an individual. The journey to a life of gratitude begins with the mindset of wanting to live a life filled with gratitude. You cannot be picky with everything, to learn how to appreciate everything is a big step into beginning your journey. (Definitely the hardest step). Finding three positives for every one negative in a situation, even if it may be hard to find one. Start with the little things, like the temperature, the colors surrounding you, or even the shoes you are wearing at that moment. Finding gratitude in your challenges. A midterm, an essay, or signing a lease and finding handfuls of jobs to help afford rent. Give yourself the respect and pat on the back you deserve for spending all of those hours with your nose in the books, missing out on a night with friends to grind out a paper, and finishing job applications. There are always good things in bad situations, some may be more complicated to find, but it is all worth it in the end.
You got there. You did it.
One thing that I began doing that I found to be very helpful is a gratitude journal. (For my first gratitude journal, I chose to purchase a bullet journal). Gratitude journals are used by people who wish to focus their attention on the positive things embedded in their lives, despite being surrounded by the negatives. Finding things to be grateful about can be as simple as being thankful for having legs to walk on, a voice to exercise freedom of speech or to meet new people, or the eyesight that will allow you to see the beauty in life. By doing this, looking back in the journal on a bad day, reflecting on the good days will not only prompt a better mood but will encourage you to have more good days like that. Writing your feelings reduces stress, gains a new positive perspective on life, improve your self-esteem, to teach yourself a healthy version of self-discipline, and it is also scientifically proven that keeping a journal induces healthier sleep.
This is a personal reflection of how I have begun my journey of finding my sense of gratitude, and I do have a long way to go. I have become more open to new hobbies like sewing, cross-stitching, working out, and oddly enough, studying. By doing these different things day by day, it has been instant gratification afterward. Starting the journey to find your sense of gratification is an easy habit to form, and even just sitting yourself down and writing ten different things that you are thankful for in one day could potentially be the start of your journey.