I listened to a morning talk show on while I drove into work today (the day before Thanksgiving), and each DJ shared what they were thankful for. This is a tradition of expressing gratitude that my family honors most years, but for some reason this year it resonated with me on a different level.
One of the most seemingly simple yet life altering lessons I have learned over the last year is the power of gratitude. Expressing gratitude, whether it be to a higher power that you believe in or thanking your coworker for grabbing something off the printer, feels pretty f*cking great. Authentic thankfulness doesn’t only brighten the receiving party’s day, but it will honestly shift your entire mindset if you allow yourself to be present when expressing it.
My adolescent-self once sat at the Thanksgiving table with 25 of my relatives and rattled off what I was thankful for without being truly present. I didn’t pause to let how much I had in life to be thankful for sink in. I often used a canned expression such as “I’m thankful for my family” or “I’m thankful we can all be together.” It’s not that I didn’t believe those things I said, but I didn’t value them 1/100th (drastic understatement) as much as I do today.
What changed? I got some scars. I fought through some rough physical, emotional, and mental battles. I came out stronger, wiser, and GRATEFUL AF for the amazing life I have. It’s not perfect. In fact, it’s a bit of a sh*tshow at times. But it’s mine and I will not waste one more day of it trying to be perfect.
I noticed as I began to express gratitude every day that my entire (gr)attitude changed. I was just happier. My dry sense of humor has stayed well intact, but it doesn’t have that note of bitterness that it once did. You know… that vibe behind sarcasm that is, in reality, a small cry for help and attention. Now when I laugh, I really laugh. And when I make a funny comment, it’s not bolstered with 30 years of anger, insecurity, and resentment. It’s just a joke.
I got to my office after listening to the morning talk show and took a moment to sip my coffee and contemplate what I had to be grateful for. Below is what came to mind for 2017:
- I am thankful for my struggle. This may sound painfully cliché, but it is spot on for me this year. Without my disease, eating disorder, divorce, emotional chains to perfectionism, and toxic relationships of the past I would not be writing this today. I would not have acquired the wisdom and resiliency that I needed to heal myself and help others. I am not sure if I even have 10 readers at this point, and the beauty of my journey at this very moment is that I am 100% ok with that. My goal is to connect with and inspire people who are going through these struggles, or any struggle. My goal is not to hit a specific number of positive comments or social media likes. It’s so freeing to know what my values are, finally act in accordance with them, and let go of any judgment that may result from expressing my truth. Sorry, not sorry.
- I am thankful for my body. I am still near the beginning of my autoimmune healing and eating disorder recovery, but I am healthier now than I have ever been. I am grateful for having a body that can push through a hot yoga class, an hour of laps in the pool, or a HIIT workout (3 of my favorites). I am humbled by how much stronger and more flexible my body has become since I have made the commitment to stick with a workout routine and clean up my diet.
- I am thankful for my family. We have plenty of issues, as any family does. I work on setting healthy boundaries, responding instead of reacting, and being calm in general with my parents. It’s a work in progress. But when sh*t hits the fan my family is there for me, few questions asked (no one is perfect). They have proven this when I was at my lowest and needed them the most.
- I am thankful for my friendships. I am thankful for old friends, new friends, friends I’ve grown closer to, and even friends I’ve grown apart from. One thing that became clear as I made my health and self-care a top priority is that some people will be supportive and some will be a bit uncomfortable. Some may even distance themselves, and it doesn’t necessarily make them bad people. It just means that at this point in time you won’t be very close. You might even lose them as a friend entirely, and that is ok. While losing some friendships and having others drift closer to casual acquaintance type relationships, I’ve also met and connected with some pretty amazing people. I know who I am now, I value myself, and I value the time and energy I put into relationships. I will only dedicate my time and effort to those with whom I have a strong connection with… the ones who are “ride or die” without me ever having to ask. I may have a cup of coffee or go to brunch with some pretty smart, funny, outgoing individuals. They just won’t get the same level of openness or volume of my time. This is because I no longer feel the need to pathologically please everyone. It’s unbelievably liberating.
I am obviously grateful for many other things, but these ring the most for me this Thanksgiving. I hope they resonate with you and that you are able to determine, if you have not already, what you are most thankful for this year.
“Acknowledging the good that is already in your life is the foundation of all abundance.” – Eckhart Tolle