Thankful: A Practice in Gratitude

I’m an optimist, at least that’s what all the personality tests and buzzfeed quizzes tell me.

I like to call myself a realistic optimist, which helps me stay grounded so that I don’t float away on idealism-filled balloons.

I don’t know if it’s this proclivity towards optimism that makes me grateful for what I have, or a willingness to allow to myself to be happy.

Learning to Be Grateful

I see people around me who have so many things to be thankful for, yet are harping on the little annoyances of their lives. This might be pessimism, or maybe they just aren’t allowing themselves to be happy.

In order to be happy we have to open our eyes and notice the wonderful things around us. For example, as I look around my living room I am thankful for:

  • This adorable one-bedroom apartment my loving boyfriend and I call home. And on that note, my wonderful, loving boyfriend.
  • The art prints I’ve collected during my travels, and the many adventures I’ve been lucky enough to embark on in my 27 short years.
  • The books that surround me, that allow me to ebb and flow into other lives, realities, and experiences of human existence.
  • The photographs that document the wonderful times I’ve spent with the special people I call friends and family.
  • My beer coasters, because, beer.
  • The two plants I’ve managed to keep alive for almost a year (fingers crossed!).
  • The football by the door, reminding me that I’m healthy and able-bodied enough to enjoy exercise and a full range of motion.
  • A painting someone made for me, a testament to the love I enjoy from some pretty awesome people.

I invite you to do this very same activity at this very moment. Even if you’re at work or plugging away at Starbucks, look around you and think of the things you take for granted. What are you thankful for?

I try to make a habit of doing this at least once a month. It keeps me grounded and reinforces happiness.

Say No to Stress and Yes to Gratitude

If you get wrapped up in the stresses of day-to-day life, you’re not enjoying the short time you have on this planet. Stop stressing and start demonstrating gratitude! Heck, you may even realize that you’re grateful you’re stressed, because that means you have a paying job or are blessed with children to look after.

Getting to Grateful

Yes, we all have our good days and our bad. I’m not grateful everyday and I’m not my best as much as I want to be, but when I do take the time to reflect, I am pleasantly surprised by the warm fuzzies that emerge.

Creating the life I want has taken time and numerous bouts of frustration, but with determination and perseverance, I believe anyone can live the life they truly want.

Be grateful today, and see how you feel tomorrow. If you’re lighter and more positive, maybe this exercise worked after all.

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