For 365 days, I have been writing down three things I am grateful for each day and it has had some surprising results.
We all know the power gratitude can have. In the darkest times, if you can find at least one thing to be grateful for, even if it is something as simple as having running water, a warm home to live in or food in your fridge, it can change your perspective entirely. This is what happened to me.
I embarked on a journey of gratitude in 2016. It turns out, it was the perfect year to do it. I have had a difficult year. I won’t go into detail but it’s been really hard to stay positive most days. I downloaded the app Gratitude Journal on my phone on the 31st of December 2015. I wanted to see if writing down three things every day I am grateful for would actually impact my wellbeing and change my perspective when experiencing bad days.
It actually worked. Each night, I would write down three things I was grateful for that day. Sometimes they were very similar – my partner’s name, home and food. However, some days I managed to write down five or even six things I am grateful for. I didn’t feel like it changed anything at first. However, after a couple of months. It started to rewire my thoughts. Reflecting on my day each night with a list of things that made me feel grateful, happy and loved made me realise that life was about the smaller things.
Whenever I got caught up in a negative spiral of I hate my job, why does this always happen to me? and why am I not going anywhere?, I adjusted my thoughts. I remembered my list. I am grateful for my friends, my partner and my home. It instantly reminded me to be grateful for what I have and not to focus on what I don’t have.
It had such an impact on my life that I’ve decided to carry on my gratitude list into 2017. It may not work for everyone but if you feel like you need to remind yourself every day of all the amazing things you have that make your life great, then start a gratitude list.
I’m always wishing for something or thinking about something I want. I know that I should appreciate what I already have but sometimes, I find myself stuck in an endless cycle of negativity and hopelessness. I’m tired of struggling. I just want everything to happen. Right now. I don’t want to wait any longer. I’m still waiting for the day that changes everything.
Why is it so difficult to see what is right in front of me? What is this selfish need that all humans have to always want more? I feel like I have fallen into the same trap that everybody else falls into. I have it imprinted in my mind that the only way I am ever going to live a happy life is to get everything I want. But I know deep down that none of it really matters.
I have a long mental list of things that I want to complete, I want to have lots of money and own expensive possessions, get my a dream job, be able to travel the world and possibly have a family of my own one day. But do I really want all of that? More importantly, do I really need all of that? Or is society’s influence so strong that I don’t know the difference between what I really want and who I want to be and what society expects of me?
Dreaming is an important part of living. There’s nothing wrong with hoping for a better life and wishing for good things to happen but when they start to control your overall happiness, it becomes a big problem. And it’s starting to become a big problem for me. I’m only twenty one years old, why do I feel this pressure to achieve everything and have everything I want right now? I blame society. I blame social media. I blame the high expectations that are set by others. I also blame myself for succumbing to this toxic way of thinking. I don’t need to follow any guidelines, my life is not going to be the same as anyone else’s, I need to start believing this.
I try and switch off and embrace the day, live my life and stop worrying about the future but it’s hard. None of us know how much time we have and I think that urgency causes this need to want everything right now. I want so many things. Maybe I should start focusing on what I need? I already have everything I need. I have amazing friends, a family, a loving partner and a home. I am more privileged than most but I fail to see how lucky I am on a daily basis. I am surrounded by love, I experience happiness every day but I don’t realise it because it is clouded by the pressures of the future and everything I have yet to achieve and material possessions I have yet to own.
I need to stop thinking of happiness as a goal. Life is a journey and finding happiness is part of that journey. I’m not always going to be happy. I’m going to have days that I feel so bad about my life that I won’t want to get out of bed in the morning and that’s okay because there are plenty of days ahead of me that I will experience joy and contentment. I might not be where I want to be right now but I need to start enjoying the present and stop fretting about the future. I’m not perfect, I’m going to make lots of mistakes, I’m still young and I still have so much I need to learn about this crazy and perplexing thing we call life.
Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss… you will land among the stars – Les Brown
I have always had a love-hate relationship with New Year’s Resolutions. I dislike resolutions of the generic kind, such as – I will lose x amount of weight, I will stop eating unhealthily and I will quit smoking. These are the types of resolutions that are most likely to fail. I have to admit that I have made similar resolutions in the past and they have always failed. This year I have decided to make a different kind of resolution, call it a different way of thinking if you will. I no longer want to waste my time. I need to start saying yes to more things that I want to do. I make far too many excuses and I am tiring of these ‘phases’ that I seem to be accustomed to recently. So my goal for 2014 is to change my way of thinking. No more laziness, if I want something I need to work hard to achieve it.
I have always been too ambitious with my goals and this year will be no different. I am going to achieve my goals. Some of them are unrealistic but quite a few of them are possible to achieve. I would love to say at the end of 2o14 that I am a published writer. I doubt my young adult novel will be ready for publication in one year’s time but if I can publish a short story in a magazine or self-publish one of my poetry collections, I will be a very happy writer. 2014 is the year of writing, the year that I will finish my university course, the year that I will find a job and start my career in the writing industry.
2013 has been a hard year. But everything I have been through has made me a stronger person. I have an amazing group of friends at university, I am in a loving relationship with my best friend, my family may never be the same again, now that my parents are no longer together, but a sense of normality will develop as time progresses. I am very lucky and every day I try to remind myself of this. I think it is important to take a few moments, maybe at the end of the day before you go to sleep, to just reflect on everything that you are grateful for.
I no longer want to write empty words. I want to believe that I can achieve my goals in 2014. Life is so incredible short and I don’t want to wait around for my life to start. I will get a job, save my money, get an apartment with my long-term boyfriend, go on holidays together, buy a pug, publish my novel. The list is endless but I am determined to make the most of not just next year but all of the years that follow. I want to carry on with this positive state of mind, this determination, to make my way through the list that I carry close to my heart. The long list of dreams and goals that I hope to achieve in my life.
For last year’s words belong to last year’s language and next year’s words await another voice. – T.S. Eliot