It’s funny how synchronicity works. Whenever you really need something in your life, the Universe seems to deliver it at the most opportune moment.
This morning, I woke up in a bit of a sour mood. Despite today being my birthday, a day I usually would be excited for and wake up with a bit of zest and joy, I felt depleted, low, and empty.
I can’t believe I’m 29. I haven’t accomplished anything.
The negative voice in my mind was louder than ever. The self-doubt, black hole of lacking self-confidence manifested into a mopey, whiny birthday girl. I could’ve stayed in bed all day, lamenting on how awful my life had become.
What have I accomplished in my 20’s? I’m not engaged, not married, haven’t had any kids yet. I don’t even have a decent job. What is wrong with me? Seriously, what the hell?
The gross, toxic self-talk blared in my head. Not the best way to start a new day, especially on one’s birthday! I had to actively work on shifting my thoughts in order to lift my mood and increase my energy.
Is my life really that awful? The short answer: hell no! Following a pep talk from my beloved boyfriend (my amazing motivator and biggest fan) and listening to a motivational speech on YouTube (seriously, these always change my perspective and bring me back into focus), I am finally able to move on with my day and stop belittling myself and the decisions I made in the past.
That’s the thing: the past has a way of coming back to haunt me. Not like I had an awful life or troubled past or anything, but an overactive mind has the tendency to focus on the not-so-relevant things. I’ve been told that I think too often about the things I cannot change. The past seems to be a comfortable destination for my thoughts to settle, and it’s becoming a tremendous mental roadblock. The proverbial “What if….” plays out in my cognition, tainting my present sense of self and crumpling my confidence. However, when I’m in the negative place of self-ridicule I don’t think in such rational terms.
Learning to live in the present and deal with the situation in the “here and now” is a practice I (and I’m sure many people) must work on constantly. My mood fluctuates throughout the day, one moment of fleeting accomplishment and joy from completing a task or doing something worthwhile and fulfilling is followed by horrible feelings of criticism and worthlessness.
Here’s where the Universe gave me a swift kick in my butt, awakening me to a spiritual practice I have abandoned some time ago. While doing research for a freelance article, I came across a page which sparked my attention. The article entitled, Gratitude list- the help you need on bad days leaped off the screen. I knew it was time to get my feelings into check and start feeling better about myself. I mean, it’s my freakin’ birthday for crying out loud!
Several years ago, following the success of the ever-popular The Secret book series, I read Rhonda Byrne’s The Magic. Being an energetic, ambitious young woman in her early-twenties, I eagerly completed the tasks outlined in the book. Essentially, the book asks you to keep a daily log or journal of at least ten things you are grateful for. I carried my “gratitude journal” around with me everywhere and religiously wrote in it every morning during breakfast. It became my routine. I was actively engaged in counting my blessings. And, as cliché as it may sound, beginning to take stock of all the things I was grateful for enhanced my life in unbelievable ways. I became self-reflective in a more positive way. The more I contemplated on the good on my life, the less space and time I had to think of the negative. I began to believe in myself more as I noticed all the good things in my life. As the old adage goes, “like attracts like.” As I was thinking about and writing down the things I was grateful for I began receive and experience more blessings.
Waking up this morning in such a low mood was a scary indication that I must start NOW on actively making changes to better my life, or at least my perception of it. Today marks the beginning of my journey with gratitude. Each day I will write down at least ten things I am grateful for.
#1: My family
Though there are only four of us, my immediate family is very close. Given that we all now live in different countries and are separated by many miles and time zones, I know I can always count on my parents and my brother. I am thankful for their unconditional love, the fun times we share together, and the unparalleled respect and support we all have for one another. I sometimes hear horror stories about broken families or rifts between family members and it is heartbreaking. I couldn’t ask for better parents or brother. My family consists of wonderful, talented, kind, and loyal people. I am forever grateful for them.
#2: My BFF
I’ve known Paulo since we were silly, naive, Freshman in a Math 101 class my first week in University. We have watched each other grow throughout the past decade, and I couldn’t be more happy to have a friend as funny, witty, loyal as Paulo. His sense of humor, his empathy for others (though he claims he’s not sensitive), and his ability to bring light to everyone he meets makes me proud and happy to call him my friend.
#3: My beloved
I am truly thankful for my amazing boyfriend and companion, Denis. His strong values and unshakeable sense of self motivate me to pursue my goals. We complement each other and make a great team. His vision for the future help keep my mind on track, and I look forward to seeing what the future holds for us.
#4: My home
A negative mindset can truly cloud one’s mind, making the good things less visible. As I begin to focus on the good things, I’m realizing what is around me. I live in a beautiful place with stunning nature, lovely views, and incredible scenery. I took the above photo while going on a stroll through my city. While not every day promises sunshine, I am grateful to have scenery like this surrounding me. I am grateful to live in a green country that is safe, serene, and quiet.
When I reflect on all the amazing places I’ve visited I’m in awe that I even have to remind myself on how awesome my life truly is. I am grateful for all the incredible travel opportunities I’ve had throughout my life. Having visited more than fifteen countries, I realize that I am beyond lucky to have seen and experienced so much of the world.
Though still a novice, I have taken up gardening as a hobby. Summoning the green thumb powers hasn’t been the easiest while navigating weeks of rain, cold temperatures, and pesky magpies rummaging through the garden. I have found joy in connecting with nature and watching seeds blossom into vibrant plants.
It’s incredible how something as simple as a meme can bring laughter and joy into one’s life. I am grateful for the moments in life where I can genuinely laugh. Seriously, this Judge Judy meme always make me smile.
#8: Sports & socializing
I’m forever grateful for the fun, joy and laughter from my volleyball team. A wild group of international students from all across the globe make for one amazingly talented and fun-loving community.
Animals bring joy into our lives because they are always living in the present moment. They remind us to live, think, breathe in the present, rather than waste precious time and brain cells running through past events (which leave us depressed) or anticipating the future (which causes anxiety). The little monkey in the picture is Pierre, and he’s been in my life for nearly ten years. I am eternally grateful for his loyal companionship, his laid-back personality, and his comfy cuddles (despite his stinky cat breath when he yawns in my face).
#10: Being alive & healthy
Although I may struggle with pessimistic thoughts from time to time, I must say I am grateful to be able to experience life (with its good and bad) in a physically healthy body. My health has kept me alive for 29 years. My strong body has allowed me to travel, play sports, walk, run, roam, and experience life. I am grateful for my able body.
After completing my first gratitude list, I must say I feel empowered and rejuvenated. It feels almost cathartic to pull forward my happy thoughts and replace the negative ones. Gratitude isn’t a one-time thing, and I am encouraged to call upon my blessings and gifts whenever I sense the toxic thoughts creeping back.
Here’s to a new and fabulous year!