Amidst the holiday season, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the “show” of it all. The gift giving, pretty decorations, Hallmark movies, holiday magic…you get the idea. And while all of these are absolutely amazing things that help make this season my favorite time of year, it can also feel overwhelming at times. Trying to find the perfect gift, decorate the best, have tons and tons of holiday cheer, make the most of this year and prepare to kick next year’s butt (while still living your normal life, school, job, etc)–this all can lead to life feeling chaotic, hectic, and over-the-top busy. That’s why I want to take this time to make a list of things I am grateful for. It’s a great way to slow down, really remember the reason for the season and the importance of truly living, and take time to feel joyful and grateful.
Gratitude is not only good for the soul, but also very healthy physically, mentally, and emotionally. People who take the time daily to express gratitude experience more positive emotions, are happier, sleep better, express more compassion, and have more energy. These are just a few of the many benefits found from research studies. If you’re sitting over there thinking, adding another thing to do, such as expressing gratitude, is only intensifying my overwhelmingly busy schedule, don’t freak out! Daily gratitude can take as little time as 5 minutes. This could be as simple as listing, out loud or in your head, 3-5 things you’re grateful for every day on your morning commute or discussing these ideas with your family over dinner. It also doesn’t have to include big, life-changing moments (although those certainly should be added to the list when and after they occur) because for most of us, those moments don’t happen daily. Instead, think of the little things such as you went out for ice cream with friends, or you went on a 30 minute run that left you feeling awesome for the rest of the day or even you spent all day watching movies and cuddling with your pet and/or significant other.
One of the most common ways of gratitude is to keep a gratitude journal and write in it every night for 5 minutes. This is something I tried to pick up many times before in the past and always have fallen away from unintentionally. To round out the end of 2016 and start 2017 off right, I am really focusing on making my gratitude journal a daily habit every night before I go to bed. This helps me reflect on my day and even if crappy things happened (it is life after all), I realize I still have so much to be grateful for. If journaling isn’t your thing, you could start a blog, a gratitude jar, or just be open about your gratitude daily. However you choose, expressing gratitude daily can certainly change your life.
Here is a short list I have come up with about things I am thankful for every day.
Over Thanksgiving and Christmas break so far, I have had the chance to read some amazing books. You know, the kind that you get lost in the story and never want to put down? I don’t always have a lot of time for leisurely reading, but I am sure grateful for the opportunity when it does arise
As crazy as I know he is, I really enjoy those precious moments with him. Whether that be curling up on the couch (sadly, not often), petting him, watching him sleep and snore adorably, walking him (yes, we walk our cat) or just being with him. We’ve had him for 14 years now and he has a lot of health issues, so every moment I get to spend with him is awesome.
Okay before you go crazy mad, it’s not the movies specifically, but the memories I associate with them. After Thanksgiving, my house turns into Hallmark movie central, despite their predictable endings and cheesiness. My mom, dad and I all lay around on couches and chairs, snuggled up by the fire while watching these movies. We point out and laugh at some of the inconsistencies and predictable endings, but in the end we love each movie we get to spend time together watching. For that, I’m grateful.
All of these other things I am thankful for, wouldn’t be possible or with me without God. For me and my life, God is who I put my faith and trust in, giving my life to Him. I am grateful that he sent his only son Jesus Christ to die on the cross for my (and all) sins so that I could live a life knowing God and his love. Without my relationship with God, I would be a very different person today and I am so thankful for everything God has, is and will do in my life.
My family is my rock. Some people dread going home for the holidays or spending time with their parents, but I live for it! I love spending time cooking, eating, hanging out, talking, and just being with my family. They have supported me more than I could’ve imagined through so many stages of life and I know I can count on them for anything. Seriously, words cannot describe how grateful I truly am for them.
While my health isn’t perfect (and currently I’m actually sick, can you say irony?), it certainly is something to be thankful for. I don’t have any major illness, disease, or complication and my body is healthy enough to allow me to workout and enjoy life. I am struggling with parts of my health and getting back to being healthy (more on that in a later post), I am thankful that I am able to live free and be healthy.
Lastly, this may seem generic, and it kinda is, but I have had some great opportunities over my life, specifically in the past few years. I have had the opportunity to play collegiate volleyball as well attend a great University where I can continue to grow in my learning. I have traveled to some awesome places such as Maui, Disney and Hot Springs and I got to watch my absolutely favorite television show, THE BIG BANG THEORY, being filmed live. I have also had support and been able to start this blog, something I never thought would happen. These are just a few to name, but each and every opportunity that comes my way, I am grateful for the ability to use it to grow and live fully.
So that’s just a small list of every day things I am grateful for in life. I have my gratitude journal on top of this as well as I am trying to find something joyful and good in every situation and in the little things. It may be hard to commit to, but I am really working on appreciating life’s every day gifts, small or big, and how they can and will positively impact my life.
What are you thankful for? How do you practice expressing gratitude in your own life?