Gratitude is quite popular during this time of year, but remember that gratitude is always the attitude. Sometimes, we forget to take a moment to just remember how blessed we are throughout the year, but here are some tips to help you check in with yourself and your gratitude every once in a while.
First things first, understand that your problems are valid. Your emotions are valid. Acknowledge that. But, don’t ever allow your problems to make you feel like you’re living a bad life.
Stop Comparing Yourself to Others, Start Recognizing Your Progress
“Comparison is the thief of joy.”-Theodore Roosevelt. Comparing yourself to other people, your experiences to others’ experiences or your career to others’ careers perpetuates the illusion that the grass is always greener on the other side. It’s important to understand that, most often, there is a lot going on behind the scenes that you don’t see. Maybe the other side has fake grass like a golf course while your side is teeming with life and the beautiful seasons that come with it.
Regina Brett said it best: “If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.” So, understand that if you ever envy someone else’s life simply because of the parts of their life that they choose to show you, remember that your life was given to you for a reason (and I doubt that reason was to become someone else).
However, the comparison is not always a bad thing. Let’s take a moment to demonstrate:
Think about a goal that you’ve set for yourself this year.
Think about how close to your goal you were when you set it.
Think about how close you are now.
Have you made any progress by taking action to move towards your goal?
If you answered “yes,” take a moment to congratulate yourself and celebrate your successes. Incremental successes are still successes because they mean you are closer to achieving your goal.
If you answered “no,” why not?
Now you can take a moment to alter your approach to your goal in order to move closer towards it.
This is a productive type of comparison because it allows you to check-in with yourself, acknowledge your growth and recognize the gratitude you might feel in relation to how far you’ve come along in your journey.
Look at Things from a Different Angle to Put Them Into Perspective
Stuart Little taught us that most things have a silver lining. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that sometimes, creating the silver lining is up to us. And sometimes, we don’t even realize what the silver lining was until we look back and connect the dots years later.
But silver linings don’t just have to come from big, life-altering moments. They are in many seemingly repetitive things we do every day. We do some of these tasks without even giving them a second thought, like brushing our teeth or bathing. Take that time to be grateful you have a toothbrush or running water to shower with.
However, we find ourselves doing some of these tasks quite reluctantly. For example, I may not feel like getting up early to go to a 9 a.m. class, but I’m grateful I opened my eyes this morning at all (no matter how early it was). I have a way to get to class, and I have the ability and opportunity to go to college in the first place. Now, am I really going to be grumpy about that 9 a.m. class after putting it into perspective? Probably not. Whenever I want to hit snooze on my alarm, I remind myself of those things.
Every moment gives you the opportunity to take stock of what you’re grateful for at that moment.
Everything Happens for a Reason
This, right here, is my motto. It’s wild when you think about how many people have had near misses simply because someone didn’t hold a door open for them, the elevator seemed to take forever to get to their floor, traffic was backed up, they had to stay home because they got a cold, their car broke down, they missed their bus, they had to turn back because they forgot their wallet, and the list goes on. Any inconvenience or unfortunate situation may very well be protecting you from a far worse situation. So, remind yourself that everything happens for a reason the next time you want to yell at the red light for taking too long to turn green.
If we allow ourselves to live day by day, moment by moment, it’s far easier to notice the moments that are worthy of gratitude. Why bulldoze through life in a hurry to get to your destination when the “journey is the real reward (quote courtesy of the wrapping on my chopsticks)?”So, take a moment to take a deep breath (and be grateful for safe air to breathe) and look around. What, right here and right now, are you grateful for?