What Are You Grateful For in Life?
”Gratitude is the wine for the soul. Go on and get drunk.” — Rumi
Do you ever pause what you’re doing and reflect on the things you’re grateful for?
Not many people do this. I should do it more often.
When you express your gratitude every day, something magical happens. You invite more positivity into your life. The shield that’s supposed to protect you from negative thoughts and influences becomes thicker.
I often write down three things I’m grateful for in my journal. It could be anything. These things don’t necessarily have to be very ‘deep’. They may be simple, weird, thoughtful, ridiculous, serious, funny, playful, mundane, anything goes.
In this article, I’ll share with you the 10 things I’m most grateful for.
What I’d like to do, is to invite you to do the same. At the end of last year, Medium lists by invite were a thing. I always enjoyed reading and writing to them. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a Medium Writer Challenge, so I thought: “Why not?”.
Let’s create a string of articles about gratitude. I believe that it helps you reflect on what makes you happy, what makes you tick. Have you ever tried it?
So let’s go! Feel free to join in if you read this. Send me a link with your post in the comments. At the end of this article, I will invite some of my Medium friends too.
“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.” — Marcus Tullius Cicero
Here they are in no particular order:
1. Feeling Healthy Physically
I’m a bit overweight, I have a busy social life and I like to party. I try to watch what I eat and exercise from time to time, but to say I’m the male equivalent of a quinoa eating FitGirl? No.
However, I feel extremely grateful for days full of energy, positivity, and strength. Days when I’m not tired, have a hangover or generally feeling sick. I’m constantly grateful for my health.
I did a lot of hikes in South America earlier this year, and with every ache, I was grateful afterward that I was even able to do these hikes. That I was physically strong and fit enough to go on 4-day 100 kilometer hikes and walk through breathtaking nature.
It’s all about feeling energetic. When I feel energetic, I feel I can do anything. I’m very productive and usually good-humored, too. I feel like this after an intense workout. The trouble is, you always feel like this after the workout. If only we could feel like that before…
Treat yourself and your body. Think about it: when you feel healthy you are able to get so much more out of life. Find that balance of eating good food and exercise, while still enjoying life. Relax often as well. Make sure you get a good night’s sleep. Sadly, you’ll only notice how precious your health is once you’re really sick or injured. Appreciate your health now.
2. Feeling Healthy Mentally
I easily get anxious, I worry a lot and I like to be in control. I struggle with my mental health from time to time. It’s always there, but sometimes it’s more severe than other times.
Whenever I have insights that help me cope or when I have a good day or handled a situation well, I feel really happy. After all, it’s all a journey of learning and every lesson apparently spikes my gratitude — and growth.
When I picture myself half a year ago, I don’t recognize that person. I was close to being burned out. I was anxious all the time, avoided going out, had panic attacks and felt trapped in a life I didn’t want. When I was done feeling sorry for myself I decided to take action. I went to see a psychologist, started to exercise again, meditate, etc. I needed a break. I burned all my bridges and traveled for almost four months.
Now I feel very positive, resilient and relaxed. Stuff I used to worry about (financial security, opinions of others, etc.) don’t bother me that much anymore. I just let it go. It sounds so simple, but it took me a long time to get there.
Having been in a bad place I appreciate my mental state even more. What about your mental health? Are you in a good place? How wonderful is that! And if not, know you’re not alone and that there are ways to get out of it.
“Gratitude turns what we have into enough.” — Anonymous
Ever since I could read and understand what was going on in movies, I was infatuated by stories. Stories are the fuel for life. Everything is essentially a story. Politics, economy, what you tell yourself every day, society. The values you hold dearly are stories you tell yourself based on what you encounter in life. Stories you believe in. We, humans, are the only creatures on Earth who can create and believe in stories.
Books, films, tv shows, other art forms like paintings, life stories. I take so much pleasure out of a really good story. Stories that strike a chord with me. Stories that make me laugh, cry, shout at the telly, curse a character, make me feel uncomfortable — stories that move me.
In my spare time, I’m a voracious reader. I go to the movies every week and I follow a couple of tv shows. Recent favorite tv shows are The Handmaid’s Tale, Genius, When They See Us and Chernobyl.
Stories allow us to forget about time, to forget our worries and crawl into the minds of others. Stories allow us to live a million different lives and broaden our perspectives. Why do you love stories?
This comes as no surprise. I’m happiest when I’m writing. Both creative writing or the growth I go through in the process.
I’m very happy when I’m in the flow of writing a short story, blog post or when I’m working on my novel. That feeling of being totally immersed in another world, with your characters is almost divine. I have no sense of time and space when I’m in that flow state. Creating and inventing makes me happy.
Simultaneously, I’m also very happy when my posts perform well, when the number of visitors on my website grow or when I receive positive feedback. This year I even published a book, something I wanted to do ever since I was a kid.
Over two years ago I finally took that step and shared my stories with the world. I’d been scared to do that for years. But then I thought: I might as well try and see what happens instead of always wondering ‘what if’. I’ve never looked back since. On to creating more. On to chasing goals and dreams.
Nowadays there are so many opportunities for writing. Platforms like Medium of course. To think that I’m connecting with readers and writers across the world, all from my apartment in Amsterdam. I became friends with other writers. I cheer on other writers’ journeys here. I learn from them. It’s frankly awesome!
5. My Friends and Family
I have to be around people. In the Netherlands we have a word for it that’s hard to translate: “gezelligheid”. Which means something like coziness, similar to the Danish “Hygge”.
Nights out, long conversations, having dinner with friends, laughter, going to the movies, trips, it doesn’t matter. Usually, I make big meals and invite everyone over. Those nights are the best.
I’m very happy with all of my close friends, they’re great and I’m very grateful to have them in my life.
Most of my close friends I’ve known since first grade in high school. That’s almost twenty years! We can share everything and we know what makes each other tick. One look is usually enough. That’s something precious I must say.
When I was so stressed out last year, my friends were there. My parents too. To listen, to help or to distract me. They’re the best.
Think about your best friend or mom. How lucky are you to have them in your life?
“Wear gratitude like a cloak and it will feed every corner of your life.” — Rumi
6. Good Conversations
Do you know that feeling of getting completely carried away in conversation? A conversation where time is gone and you’re just fully immersed in a friend’s ideas and views.
Conversations about life, love, spirituality, passions, dreams, ideas, ideals, politics, religion, futurism, etc. Conversations that create common ground or invite you to look at something from a different angle. Without holding back, laying it all on the table, your values and ideas.
What happens here, like in writing or stories for me, is that I enter that flow state again. Conversations like these serve as creative fuel too, they inspire me to write a new short story or devise a scene in my book or write an article.
Sometimes I crave nothing more than being alone. Other times I desperately want to go out or hang out with friends. I can’t decide whether I’m really introvert or extrovert. I crave both.
Nights on my own, having a massage, reading, binge-watching a good TV show, going to the movies, not having to do anything (no to do’s), lying on the beach, whatever it is that helps me relax.
To take the pressure off. It’s vital for both our mental and physical health to relax. Unfortunately, we live in a time where it’s cool to be busy. The result? More overwhelmed, burned out people.
What helps you relax? Is it a spa day? Do you love lying on the beach for a couple of days, just reading and swimming? Perhaps it’s being offline for a couple of days. Take care of yourself.
I take this for granted. I live in a very liberal country. I never have to worry about doing what I most want in life. I can explore, say what I want and go where I want.
There is war and suppression in many places, but not here. How lucky am I?
When I was talking to some locals from La Paz in Bolivia, I noticed that they were unwilling to talk politics out in the open. I can’t imagine being worried about talking about Dutch politics on the streets here. The Bolivians wanted to go to a pub so no one could overhear what they really thought about their government.
Another issue I noticed was all the Venezuelan refugees trying to build a life for themselves in Argentina or Colombia. The streets of Caracas are unsafe, violence is an everyday issue. I can walk around without being afraid of being killed on the streets.
Do you ever stop and think about this?
I still have the travel blues. I had such a good time in South America. Walking through the gorgeous nature of Patagonia. Finally visiting Machu Picchu.
I made a lot of new friends and even found a group of guys I traveled with for three months. I changed perspective, re-evaluated my values, tried new things, learned about Latin American culture, danced salsa.
I know it’s not a given for everyone to be able to travel like that. I saved up for a long time as well, but to me, there’s no better way to spend my money. I can’t wait to go on the next trip and taste new types of food, meet new people, see historic sights and learn more about myself and the world.
10. Living in Amsterdam
I mentioned it before, I live in a very liberal city. Life’s great here. On sunny days everyone’s outside. People move their entire living room furniture to the streets and drink wine and talk long after sunset. Terraces are packed. Boats pass by on the canals. Some people swim in them, too.
I have a great apartment, next to the famous Jordaan area. I’m never bored. There’s parks, museums, nice restaurants, markets and cinemas on every corner. Most of my friends live here.
Traveling is great, but it’s always great to come back home, cycling passed the canal houses.
I Invite You — What Are You Grateful For in Life?
“Fundamentally, gratitude is intended to change three things: your past, your present, your future.” — Benjamin Hardy
By practicing gratitude, you focus on the positive aspects of your life instead of dwelling on stuff you think you could do better or lack. Guess what creates a more satisfying feeling? You’ll start to live in the moment more and stop getting upset about (trivial) stuff.
Last year, I stumbled upon an article by Tom Kuegler. In the article, he describes four life-changing benefits of daily journaling. I couldn’t agree more with his observations, and so did the rest of Medium. But I wanted to expand on his idea. I journal and write down three things I’m grateful for whenever I can. And then I read back all those entries and I noticed a pattern. That was my recipe for happiness:Find Your Recipe for Happiness by Keeping a Gratitude Journal
Find the Things That Make You REALLY Happy by Analyzing What You’re Grateful Fortheascent.pub
So know I’d like to invite you to take some time and think about all the things you’re grateful for. Write them down. Share them with the world if you want to. Create a habit of gratitude.
I’d love to hear from my fellow Medium friends, what are you grateful for? I invite you to share a ‘10 Things I’m Grateful For’ post. I can’t wait to read them. And if you’ve already written one, send me a link 😄.
All the best,
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