The Art of Practicing Gratitude

Last month, I decided to partake in the “Gratitude Challenge,” which consists of consciously practicing gratitude for 21 days. The National Institutes of Health study found that when people express kindness or feel gratitude, their hypothalamus floods the brain with dopamine. This gives people a natural high, motivating them to do good and express gratitude even more. Harvard researcher, Shawn Achor, explained that writing down three things you’re grateful for every day for 21 days in a row significantly can increase levels of optimism, and it holds for the next six months. I’ve been searching for ways to foster a more positive mindset and heard that it was a real life-changer, so I decided, why not? Instead of practicing gratitude for 21 days, I pushed it to 30 days, so I could practice every day for a full month.

Over the course of 30 days, I documented 3 to 4 things that I was most grateful for. Adding to this, I am grateful for this very moment I get to share with you and I hope this gives you something to be grateful for, something to look forward to or lets you feel something, anything.

  1. I am grateful to be living in this very moment and for being able to appreciate each breath I inhale and exhale.
  2. Dualism. I couldn’t appreciate these highs without the lows.
  3. Being the emotional, vulnerable and intense person that I am. Life’s too short to live up to some facade. Stop feeding the ego and start embracing who you truly are.
  4. Grateful for finding comfort in the uncomfortable, especially in new countries. There’s nothing more exciting/startling than being in a different country with different traditions where you don’t even speak the native tongue.
  5. The ability to see the beauty and symbolism in mother nature, the books I read and everything else in between.
  6. Self-awareness and the ability to understand that there are situations in life that are bigger than my body. Love each moment with grace.
  7. My rescue dog. I adopted her on a whim and couldn’t imagine living in NYC without her. She keeps me locked in a routine and grounded.
  8. My love for cooking. Nothing gives me more joy than seeing my friends and family enjoy the meals I put so much love and effort into.
  9. Growth in all aspects — physical, spiritual and emotional growth.
  10. Suffering. Suffering revealed me to my rawest but strongest self.
  11. The people serving our nation and the workforce who work on holidays. The military, nurses, doctors, police officers (and more) are what makes this nation so great and are under-appreciated.
  12. The genuine kindness of strangers.
  13. The little things my friends do to show they care. After a crappy day, hearing “I appreciate you” or “I am so glad we are friends” just turns the whole day around.
  14. The friendships I’ve fostered over the years.
  15. The kombucha sale at my local market.
  16. It took me a while to learn this, but I am so grateful for being able to feel everything so deeply. Being vulnerable is terrifying but it’s liberated me to be the person I have always dreamt of being.
  17. Dogs and the joy they get from the littlest things like going for a walk.
  18. Wawa. Who doesn’t love hoagiefest?
  19. Spontaneous excursions.
  20. Living in this very moment.
  21. Being able to find hats that fit my humongous head.
  22. Patience. I’m learning how to be more patient with myself — I’ve learned that growth doesn’t happen overnight, it takes time. You just have to trust the universe.
  23. My silly dad who calls me just to say “hello!”
  24. Grateful for breakthroughs and how they can create bridges for others to cross.
  25. Compassionate people.
  26. The success of my friends are having. They have worked their asses off and it’s so wonderful seeing them manifest their dreams.
  27. The end of comfort zones and the ability to expand my mind.
  28. Baristas who remember my coffee order.
  29. The energy transference of positive people. That shit RADIATES.
  30. Grateful for having a job/career that I genuinely love and enjoy. I am also grateful for the kind people I work with — they make work feel not like work.
  31. Grateful for the view of the NYC I get to see when I walk outside my front door. My immigrant parents worked so hard their entire lives to make this opportunity possible for me.
  32. My parents — they are my biggest blessing, and I am eternally grateful.
  33. Fresh fruit. Fruit is nature’s candy and I can’t get enough of it.
  34. Sensitivity. I’ve learned that my sensitivity and empathy aren’t weaknesses but my biggest strength. The world is a cold place but I won’t let it turn me callous.
  35. It took me a while to learn this, but I am grateful for everyone that’s ever done me dirty. The pain gave me thicker skin and taught me valuable lessons. This goes without saying but how you treat people speak volumes on the content of your character, no more no less.
  36. Innate curiosity. The ability to learn new things means endless potential. BELIEVE IN YOURSELF!
  37. Passion projects that set my soul on fire.
  38. Being present. These are the times you’ll never truly enjoy if you always have an agenda.
  39. Clean water. It’s the most basic element that keeps us surviving and thriving.
  40. Incense. It’s wild how lighting one can lighten an entire mood. Palo santo for life.
  41. The rich scent of home-brewed coffee on a Sunday morning.
  42. The excitement my dog has when she hears the word w-a-l-k.
  43. Pizza and blue cheese on football Sunday.
  44. Early morning yoga practice.
  45. Rainy weather. We are so fortunate to not be in a place of drought. Be present for these minute blessings.
  46. The holiday season. Any reason to celebrate is something we should be thankful for.
  47. Sunrises.
  48. Weed.
  49. Popeyes spicy chicken sandwich.
  50. Oat milk and all the different options in place of milk.
  51. The hustle. Can’t stop, won’t stop.
  52. The legendary Jay-Z. His music is a vibe.
  53. The scent of eucalyptus.
  54. Friends who wake up at the crack of dawn to do 6AM workouts with me.
  55. ART — I love how it transcends culture and can connect people through one common language.
  56. Freedom of expression. There’s a myriad of tools and media available — the only thing holding you back is your own creativity.
  57. Morning routines.
  58. Moments that make me laugh so hard that I end up crying.
  59. My health.
  60. Life’s omens. Nothing happens by accident, listen to the universe.
  61. Being able to take a clean warm shower every day.
  62. Sacred geometry. Fibonacci, baby.
  63. Freshly baked bagels.
  64. The feeling of coziness in a new sweater. I feel like a Cinnabon.
  65. Optimism. I am so grateful for being able to see the good in everything. The greatest weapon against stress is the ability to choose one thought over another. Appreciate the dualism. Life is full of beauty. Notice it.
  66. The moment when avocados reach peak ripeness.
  67. The feeling after a good run. We’re getting dopamine in all the right places.
  68. The excitement dogs have as soon as you walk through the door.
  69. Meditation for letting me see my thoughts.
  70. The inability to actually pinpoint or explain what makes something “beautiful.”
  71. Alan Watts for popularizing Eastern philosophies in the West. He gives me fluidity and faith in the unknown.
  72. Carbs.
  73. Grateful for giving a sh*t. Life is full of uncertainty but reality is so shapable.
  74. Jack Kerouac’s “On The Road.” I fell in love with the Beat Generation and how it prioritized self-exploration and iconoclasm. The primacy of discovering meaning through experience is uncanny.
  75. Home-cooked meals.
  76. The profundity of thought.
  77. Data-driven health trackers.
  78. Potatoes. They are so VERSATILE. You can bake, fry, mash or ferment them. Who doesn’t love fries, mashed potatoes and vodka?
  79. The Burts Bees chap stick I never lost and finished to the brim. It’s a miracle.
  80. Jimi Hendrix for writing “Little Wing.” That song got me through the toughest of times.
  81. The entire “Axis: Bold As Love” album.
  82. The woman in my yoga class who complimented my energy. There is nothing more flattering than that.
  83. My asthma for reminding me how sweet it is to breathe easily.
  84. The immigrants who have opened mom-and-pop shops. The love and labor that goes into their traditional dishes give me feelings of comfort that are indescribable. I respect their hustle so much.
  85. The cultural diversity in New York City.
  86. Spices! We didn’t have the spice trade for y’all to be eating unseasoned chicken.
  87. Deep meaningful conversations. I’ve realized that it’s not a specific setting that drives these conversations but rather the person. What’s better than developing a real raw human connection?
  88. EQ and those who have emotional intelligence.
  89. My sense of taste. How else would I be able to savor the saltiness of seawater, the sweetness of mangoes or the spiciness of green curry?
  90. Handwritten letters. Nothing sparks joy like receiving letters that show genuine authenticity.
  91. The feeling of being “home.” I came back to my hometown to realize nothing has changed except for the person I see in the mirror.
  92. My sisters and how different we all are. There is no stronger bond.
  93. Catching up with old friends. It’s so nice to see everyone and hearing all of their accomplishments. Nothing but GROWTH baby!
  94. Sunny winter days.
  95. The fresh scent of peeling a clementine.
  96. Random run-ins with friends on the street. New York City is such a small city.
  97. All the times I have felt lost. These moments helped me stop and reflect on my future, my worth, and what I find sacred.
  98. This human-body experience. There is immense gratitude that wells up inside me when I realize just how amazing this experience is in every infinite moment.
  99. The human ability to subside my emotional side and to rationalize instead. The art of reshaping your story to what you want it to be is the wildest ride of all.
  100. Grateful for my strange stream of consciousness and my intuition for always guiding me in the right direction.

I have always been an absurdly optimistic individual but this gratitude challenge let me cherish everything I find sacred and so much more. Consciously practicing gratitude has made me chronically cheerful, it’s almost scary. Cheers for being blessed enough to even have a moment to count our blessings.

my waters run deep and like the ocean, no one has reached the very bottom of me.