“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