More Is Not Always Better: Being Grateful for What Is


“It is not joy that makes us grateful. It is gratitude that makes us joyful.” ~David Rast

Every New Years Eve I make a list of resolutions that I never keep up with and it just makes me feel guilty every time I don’t. Lose ten pounds, get more involved, go to the gym, develop better relationships.

Every year I aspire to be more, do more, get more, never living within the present moment.

My stress to do more comes into play in every aspect of my life. The stress of joining more clubs comes from the competitive environment of school. I am in constant stream of uncertainty. How do I find the balance, solitude, and the calmness in life? 

I traveled to Puerto Rico with my family for last Christmas. I found that I had been thinking about the semester that lied ahead and what I was going to do to rise above my peers, although I was already involved in four different student organizations and was doing great in school.

As I sat on the beach, in paradise, on New Year’s Eve, I couldn’t help it. I was starting to form the list I had visited and revisited year after year.

This was the first time I had spent New Year’s with my family in a while. 

We enjoyed a fancy dinner of steak and wine and fine desserts, the conversation poured openly as the four of us enjoyed each other’s company. I had missed these times as I was away at college and these moments became few and far between.

We decided to skip the fancy party the resort provided and went back to our room instead. We watched from our balcony all of the guests in fancy dresses, possibly pretending to have more fun then they actually were having.

They snapped pictures for Facebook and Instagram, showing everyone at home what they were missing. I asked myself, “What is this all about?” 

As the thought danced around my head, there came the countdown until the New Year. Ten… nine… eight… I looked around at my family and everything I needed was right there.

Seven… six… five… I didn’t need to add more to my resume, I didn’t have to join more clubs, I didn’t need to stress about what the future may hold.

Four… three… two… It finally hit me all I needed was one One thing on my list: to be grateful. 

Fireworks started to go off over the water. As I looked around at my family and we wished each other a Happy New Year, colors collided and clashed in the sky, the crackles and booming shaking my light heart.

We are told about appreciating the moment and being truly grateful, I have read countless books about it; however, I never fully grasped it until this very moment. It authenticated what it really meant.

I was overcome with a sense of comfort and gratitude for everything I had been given in the past year. I had overcome a rough time and I had not allowed myself congratulations for that.

I had not been able to see clearly all of the things I had been blessed with, like my wonderful family, my great friends I had made at school and the friendships I had kept from home, and especially my health, which had not been the greatest the previous year.

That is when I made this promise to myself.

As I watched the fireworks and looked at the loving faces around me, I remembered that in one the books that had changed my life the past summer, it was suggested to practice gratitude every day.

Make a jar and put one thing you are grateful for in it every night before you go to sleep. That is what I did when I got home; I painted my gratitude jar, along with one for each member of my family.

Every night I scribble down something I am most grateful for. Sometimes I am grateful for time spent with family, other times I am grateful for my extra ten minutes of sleep in the morning, and sometimes I am grateful for a night out with friends.

We have so much to be grateful for and so much to honor within ourselves. We just need to take the time to do so.

Photo by Yoga4Love

About Brynne Travis

Brynne isn't a life coach (yet) but she does have a blog She is a Junior at Penn State University who wants to exist harmoniously, happily, and honestly so she is able to live beyond all her future aspirations. She is a firm believer in humor, communication, and breaking "social-norms."

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  • Brynne, well said! I logged my physical possessions the other day. Outside of money, clothes, luggage and a few books, that’s about it, but I’ve also circled the globe for 3 years running, am tied down to nothing, and am moving to moving for 4 months in a few days 😉

  • I hate yo be cliche but you are wise beyond your years Brynne! Best wishes for a happy, loving, grateful future.

  • Bethany Milligan

    My Tiny Buddha app suggested I leave a comment on a blog that touches my life to let the author know I appreciated it. 🙂 So. Thank you for the part where you recognized that you hadn’t given yourself credit for the “overcoming” you did in the past year. The sentiment struck a chord with me, along with your description of those below you pretending (or not!) to have a better time than they really were. I practice gratitude daily ~ today I will be grateful for your blog. And for the sentences that made me grateful for my resiliency and for my decision to stop “faking it for Facebook.”

  • Carolynne Melnyk

    A beautiful heartfelt moment of clarity! The truly wonderful part of that moment is that you took action and are now sharing. You are an inspiration to all.

  • Brynne

    That is so wonderful, I am envious! Thank you

  • Brynne

    That means so much to me, I appreciate your insight. Thank you!

  • Brynne

    Thank you kindly 🙂

  • Brynne

    Thank you!

  • CarolO

    Have just read this after a too-long working – am going home to make a gratitude jar! What a brilliant idea.

  • sarvesh ramanathan

    That Gratitude Jar concept is very nice….
    I heard of gratitude stone which u keep in pocket and feel the gratitude whenever u touch it.
    And its helping me a lot…
    I thk jar is also a good idea.
    Just a 5 min of ur day can make u soo happy…

  • Aren’t those “aha moments” awesome? You can read something countless times and know it in your head, but when you really get it and actually FEEL it in your body — that’s amazing! I can relate so much to what you’ve written here — the drive to perform, to accomplish all these little tasks so that you’re somehow ‘worthy.’ It never ends!

    Until it does. Because you realize you have everything you need RIGHT HERE. I remember exactly where I was when I realized that with my whole heart. I’m not sure what happened to make it finally sink in, but I’m so grateful for it. (Aha! See! More gratitudel! 😉 ) I won’t lie though: it’s not a one time thing. I have to remind myself daily that I’m enough just the way I am and that I have everything I need right here with me and always will. I love that you have a gratitude jar to serve that purpose for you! It might seem counterintuitive, but the way I do it is to remind myself each day that I’m not perfect, I’m not cool, and that I’m just a normal, beautifully flawed human being. Somehow that helps relieve that pressure that’s always just beneath the surface that tells me I have to be perfect. Perfection is SO limiting! I’d much rather be who I am 🙂

  • Talya Price

    I had an aha moment today, after meeting with my acting coach. Less is more. Be thankful for what you have. The only time is the present.

  • yoda428

    Great article! What was the book you mentioned that changed your life?

  • abhishek

    Thanks Brynne, I am grateful to you for the good insight and the concept of jar to practise the virtue.

  • Donna

    Brynne, your article is excellent. You have made me realize what is truly important in life. Thank you very much. I am reading the article every single day and it really puts things in perspective for the day. Im wondering if you would reveal the name of the book that ‘changed your life’. (it’s ok if you wont).

  • JiEun Lee

    Thank you so much for such a wonderful post. I don’t mean to be a downer, but just want to get some insight or advice. I have read and heard millions time about good things about gratefulness. However, every time I tried to “be grateful”, or “feel grateful”, it doesn’t feel natural to me. Rather, I feel like millions of ants are on my skin, crawling and at the same time sitting on the cushion pinned with zillions of needles, sharp end towards the sky. I even think myself as hypocrite because I am lying how I feel. any wise word or reprimand for me? Any comment would be appreciated. Thank you

  • Brynne

    “Change your thoughts, Change your world”- Wayne Dyer it was great!

  • Brynne

    Wow, I am so glad this article is helping you on a day to day basis. That is wonderful! “Change your thoughts, Change your world”- Wayne Dyer it is an amazing book. I would purchase a hard copy to take notes in the margins. Let me know what you think.

  • Brynne

    You shouldn’t have to feel like you’re lying to yourself, everyone has at least one thing to be grateful for in their lives. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t be living. Start with something as simple as the food you eat, it nourishes you and sustains your life. Many people throughout the world are without it. Start small and be grateful for the necessities you have been given (shelter, clothing) and all of a Sudden, you will be grateful for everything around you. Hope that helps!

  • What a beautiful post Brynne! I love the imagery of watching the people down below, and how we often pretend to be happier than we are.. faking it for facebook. That really struck a chord with me! I’ve tried over the years to create a gratitude practice… and it is easy to let life get in the way… I think the gratitude jar, a physical reminder of my practice might be just what I need! Thank you for sharing a lovely moment.

  • Peace Within

    I am going to start my own gratitude jar. Never considered it before. Thank you for the idea 🙂 In terms of social networking, I took myself off of those. It is easy to get caught up in those networks. I try to enjoy my life and I don’t feel like I have to show it off on the sites to feel better about what I am doing. Feels more “real” to me. Not everything we do needs to be on the internet.

  • Tania Yardley

    Thanks for this great article, Brynne. I really liked the part about congratulating yourself for the tough things you’d dealt with along with the gratitude practice. Keep on being you and sharing your insights with the world, you’ve got something special 🙂